BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — It all started with an email looking for volunteers for the 2007 Big Ten wrestling championships at Michigan State.
Now, more than a decade and 13 tournaments later, Maumee wrestling coach Brian Buck doesn’t wait for emails; he already knows he’s part of the crew that helps the Big Ten tournament go off without a hitch.
“After Purdue (in 2012), I didn’t have to bug athletic directors; I was basically part of a crew that would be contacted year after year,” Buck said. “So since 2013, I get to work with the same people. It’s a really good crew and we get asked back year after year.”
This March, Buck will work his 14th Big Ten championship when Michigan hosts it in Ann Arbor. He’s been to every Big Ten campus except Maryland and Iowa.
When Iowa hosted the tournament in 2016, the school had its own crew ready to go and did not need Buck and the regular tournament volunteers.
“It’s always really cool to see the different campuses and the venues it’s held in,” Buck said. “I have seen some incredible matches over the years and it’s always fun to be mat-side when the championship team is crowned.”
Buck’s duties have included security, tapper, video and scoring. One year, he was also assigned to different weight classes and made sure the athletes went to the drug testing room after their finals match, tasked with keeping the wrestlers in his line of sight the entire time.
He said the only thing he would not try is timer.
“It’s crazy because in college every second counts and every coach watches the clock and knows when you screw up,” Buck said of being a timer.
Among his favorite memories is when Ohio State coach Tom Ryan got a little too excited during a match and slapped Buck on his rear end. He also said the Brand coaches from Iowa are the most intense coaches he’s ever seen.
In 2020, Rutgers hosted the tournament, and Buck’s family came with him, going to New York while he was at the tournament. The next week, the country shut down due to the COVID pandemic.
The following year at Penn State, the tournament took place without fans, which Buck said was an eerie experience.
“That was really strange,” he said. “They had fake rowdy noise playing the whole time.”
Buck does not get paid to work the Big Ten championships, instead covering the cost himself. Even with that, he said, the experience is completely worth it.
“I have learned and seen so much over the years,” he said.
Last year, one of the crew members got Buck a position as a table worker at the NCAA National Championship in Detroit. He’s been invited back this year, so after his season, he’ll be driving to Oklahoma City.
“It is really cool to see wrestlers and teams from all over the United States,” Buck said.