2019 Middle States Hall of Fame Inductee – Shari Bucklin-Webber
Shari Bucklin-Webber frequently talks to her players about sportsmanship, dedication and teamwork. Perhaps as well as anyone else, she also practices what she preaches.
As a player, coach and mentor, Bucklin-Webber has been a tennis leader and pioneer for more than three decades. Most publicly known as a collegiate tennis coach, her on-court accomplishments span pages. But her impact on tennis goes beyond coaching. She is also a standout player and sportswoman — something that has helped her better connect with the hundreds of players she’s reached over the years.
Currently coaching the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Kutztown University, Bucklin-Webber began her tennis career like many: on the courts with her parents.
“They used to take me and my younger brother to the club when they would go play,” she said of her parents. “Little did I know what that would lead to.”
Bucklin-Webber grew up in Ohio and had played sports like basketball and softball on a regular basis. But tennis stuck with Bucklin-Webber in a way the other sports didn’t, even when the game wasn’t easy.
“Tennis was probably the hardest sport for me,” she said. “I couldn’t figure it out, and I lost a lot.”
As she has so many other times in her career, though, Bucklin-Webber fought through it and learned how to play with a great attitude. She continued to play and improve, and she learned the value of sportsmanship.
Bucklin-Webber spent her early junior tennis days asking questions, and found people to play with whenever possible. Eventually she got better — something she credits to strong coaching and support along the way.
“I feel like I learn every time that I’m out on the court,” she said. “Even if I’m watching, I’m learning something. I think that always intrigued me.”
“Plus, I’m a little stubborn,” she added with a laugh.
In Bucklin-Webber’s career, she’s been recognized with a long list of awards to match her outstanding accomplishments. Perhaps most impressive of them all, she has the distinction of being the first woman to be named PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) Men’s Coach of the Year.
“I’m not comfortable with a lot of that type of attention, but that was really rewarding,” she said about the Men’s Coach of the Year award. “I had so many guys who worked so hard. I do remember some people would congratulate me and it felt awkward. I felt like it was the team’s success, not mine. Fortunately I’m the one who got the award, but I feel it was more a reflection of their hard work as a team.”
Wins, losses and awards aren’t the things that stand out most for Bucklin-Webber, though. She mentions seeing the success of her players off the court as a major motivator for her, day-to-day.
“That’s one of my favorite parts of college coaching,” she said. “I want them to have the balance of academics, athletics and social life. What I stress the most is, ‘Yeah, we’re going to work really hard on the tennis court for this segment of time.’ But we are also going to have other opportunities off the court for success, because it makes each player a more well-rounded person.”
Bucklin-Webber will join three outstanding tennis advocates in the 2019 Hall of Fame class.
The event takes place Thursday, October 17 at the Boathouse at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The additional class members for the 2019 Middle States Hall of Fame inductees are Virgil Christian, Dan Faber and Ann LoPrinzi.
Tickets and additional information can be secured by visiting www.mshalloffame.org.