By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Former Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team coach Dan Buzard lost his three-year battle with brain cancer early Tuesday morning at Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales.
A Portales native, Buzard, 39, served as the Zias’ head coach for four seasons. He also spent 13 seasons as an ENMU assistant under Wayne Moore, replacing him at the helm in 2002 when Moore retired.
“I lost a great friend and a great assistant coach,” Moore said. “He was with me for 13 years, and he never shirked a duty — ever. He was very honest, very loyal, and you know you could say this about anybody, but I’m sincere about saying this: He was very moral and a very high-energy person, and he made my job fun every day.”
Buzard began his career at ENMU as a student assistant before becoming a graduate assistant and finally a full-time assistant for Moore.
“This boy was special,” Moore said. “He never asked (his team) to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.”
Buzard underwent several surgeries and chemotherapy treatments over the past three years to improve his condition. He missed most of the 2004-05 season.
“He’d never give up,” Moore said. “He loved life, that’s what it was all about. He loved to live and that’s what sustained him for so long.”
Buzard’s coaching contract was not renewed following the 2005-06 season. ENMU Athletic Director Mike Maguire said then it was not for health reasons.
“We’re all deeply saddened by Dan’s loss,” Maguire said. “Dan was a great guy. I worked with him for many years. I was glad to see him step into the coach’s role.
“When something like this happens, you don’t know what to say. You just want to wish the family the best of luck and let them know that we’re thinking of them.”
Buzard compiled a 47-63 record in four years. His best season was 2003-04, when the Zias posted a 16-12 record and went 10-4 to earn a three-way tie for second in the LSC South.
Buzard was named Lone Star Conference South coach of the year that season.
Moore last spoke to his former assistant on Monday evening, about six hours before he received word that his friend and colleague passed away.
“I was absolutely the luckiest person in the world to have him,” Moore said. “You could search the world over, and not find someone as loyal as a coach Buzard.”
Buzard, who played tennis and basketball at Portales High, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ENMU.
He married former ENMU softball standout Jennifer Harrer on June 5, 2004.