Dusty Buell was a four-year varsity soccer player when he attended Augusta High School. He earned All-League honors both his junior and senior seasons as a forward.

When he was younger, his father was a coach, so he learned about the game and had plenty of experience around it at an early age.

Even more recently, Buell has helped Jerramy Pankratz with the start and coaching of the Augusta Raptors youth soccer team.

Needless to say, when the varsity coaching position at Augusta High School opened up at the end of last season after Monty Rowland decided to step down, Buell jumped at the chance to take over the program. And now that he is the Orioles’ new head coach, he really wants to build up the Augusta soccer brand to levels it’s never been before.

For Buell, it starts with him being there for his players. He knows how important having a good coach was during his playing time, and he wants to give that back to his team.

“I grew up the son of a coach, and I got to witness the impact my father had on my friends and my teammates, and those are things he still carries with him to this day,” Buell said. “I have seen firsthand within my career that there are kids out there that just need someone to listen, or just be a constant figure in their lives, and that's what coaching means to me. We will always strive to get better and to win games, but sports offers a very unique opportunity to touch lives and help shape our youth not only in sports, but in the classroom and in our community.”

Buell recalled the influence of coaches like Rick Hess and Jamie VanDever, who were positive role models who made an impact. That’s what he wants to replicate.

Buell said he wanted to pick up right where Rowland left off. The Orioles had one of their best seasons under Rowland this past fall, and Buell hopes to continue that success to build a winning culture.

“I feel like Dusty is a good fit for us. He brings relative youth to the program. He is familiar with Oriole soccer, having had a successful playing career at AHS, and he has been active in the local youth soccer community. He'll bring energy and enthusiasm to the program,” Augusta athletic director Doug Law said.

Buell even has it planned out where he will focus on four main themes to build up the Orioles’ soccer brand, which involves building off the foundation that Rowland started.

“Every time we take the field, I want us taking the field with supreme confidence that our preparations and focus will give us a chance to compete and win each game,” he said.

The second step is developing talent with a high soccer IQ.

“It's not good enough to be good,” Buell said, “we need to play smart.

“It was never enough playing the game, but it was important to be better mentally than my opponent,” he added about how he approached the game when he was playing. “It’s always taking a strategic approach and constantly learning the intricacies of the game.”

The third theme is to build inspired supporters. He wants to create a 12th-man persona with the fans and get the community passionate about what the team does on and off the field.

Finally, he also wants to engage the community. He wants his team to support other sports at Augusta, as well as the youth soccer program.

“Finding ways that we can help in our community and giving kids opportunities to interact with the soccer players they look up to in our community will hopefully help increase the number of kids playing and the level of soccer being played,” Buell said.

Buell already learned from coaching the Raptors, and he expects that to benefit the team in the long run.

“I think the Augusta Raptors will help in building that Augusta Soccer brand, something that we have never had, and hopefully will get more kids involved in soccer and better prepare them for high school and put more Augusta kids playing at the collegiate level.”

Buell isn’t wasting much time. He’s already excited about the Augusta soccer camps this summer in July, and he can’t wait to get started with the Orioles.