Dan Buehring’s volleyball-playing career was not necessarily motivated by a drive to succeed, but rather by a desire to conquer his grinding fear of failure.
Deep introspection, an academic’s perspective and a healthy dose of “we versus me” comradeship helped Buehring break into main draws of AVP beach tournaments, and ultimately planted the seeds that made him perfectly suited to his present occupation:
NCAA Division III men’s volleyball coach.
Buehring’s deep and close-knit Stevens Institute of Technology team last month put an exclamation point on a 35-3 season by winning the D-III title, topping North Central College in four sets in the championship match.
Over three seasons at the nationally renowned private engineering school in Hoboken, New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan, Buehring has won 87.2% of his matches (75-11). A coaching road less traveled has proved to be a journey to ultimate success for Buehring and his squad of self-starting brainiacs.
Interestingly, the Ducks’ 37-year-old coach grew up in the western Chicago suburbs of Naperville (where North Central’s campus is located) and Lisle, home of Benedictine University. Buehring launched the men’s D-III indoor volleyball program at Benedictine, coaching there from 2015 to 2020 before taking the Stevens job.
During his days of battling as a Midwestern outsider to break the proverbial glass ceiling of the AVP main draw — with serious intent from 2014 to 2018 — Buehring and his partner (and “very best friend in the world” since their club days at Sports Performance), Matthew McCarthy, trained regularly on Chicago’s Oak Street Beach. A gleaming sliver of quartz sand nestled between Lake Michigan and the bustling Magnificient Mile, Oak sees shadows from the 100-story John Hancock Tower and Lake Shore Drive high-rises cast upon it during summer afternoons.
And it just happens to be my home sand, so I witnessed first-hand the tireless work ethic of these superbly skilled, personable and well-spoken young athletes.
The 6-foot-3 Buehring and the 6-8 McCarthy (the 2015 AVCA national men’s assistant coach of the year at Lewis University in suburban Romeoville) figuratively poked their heads and shoulders through that glass ceiling, but were unable to consistently put their feet solidly on it. Their most notable success came, fittingly, on the sand of Oak…
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