Published Sept. 29, 2022
BY MAGGIE JOHNSTON
Whether explaining the complexities of the four stages of mitosis to his freshman biology classes or screaming “DRIVE, DRIVE, DRIVE!” at exhausted water polo players, Kevin Buran makes a splash in many lives.
This Carmel High School teacher of honors and college prep biology cultivates an environment where each student, player and colleague around him feels recognized and appreciated.
“As cheesy as it sounds, I do like making connections with students, and I do my best to try to get students to think and analyze and enjoy science,” Buran explains.
First as his student and now working alongside him as a coach, Hayden Will, a 2021 graduate of CHS, has a unique perspective on the CHS girls’ varsity water polo coach in his different environments.
“He keeps students entertained and focused not only by teaching the content but also by doing projects and working in groups to collaborate,” Will describes. “He is the exact same in the classroom as he is on the pool deck.”
Whether he is teaching someone about the functions of proteins for the first time or helping someone learn how to swim or pass a ball for the first time, he does it with devotion and fervor.
Buran first started volunteering as the CHS boys’ water polo assistant coach in 2017 because of his fondness and love for the sport. As years went by and the coaching staff changed, he became the head coach and has brought the girls’ team up a division and to the Central Coast Section finals two years in a row.
“Kevin Buran is one of the most inspiring coaches to watch on a pool deck,” says John Norall, CHS staff member and boys’ water polo coach. “Not only because of his coaching technique and style, but because of his spirit that he instills in the players that he mentors.”
Whether on or off the pool deck, Buran will joke to diffuse tension or frustration.
“I’ve learned little tricks,” Buran says. “Through humor or sarcasm you can learn how to navigate through tough situations.”
With respect to team dynamics, Coach Buran cultivates an open space where everyone is free to be as goofy as they want. Either Coach Hayden or himself will ask fun icebreaker questions to lighten up hard swim sets and conditioning after a long day.
“Everyone loves Mr. Buran,” senior polo player Audrey Glaser says. “He is the best coach our girls’ water polo team could ask for because he is understanding and kind, but serious when it comes to making us better players and better people.”
At the beginning of each practice, the coach asks team members to get in the pool simultaneously, starting the warmup as a team, and players yell out a cheer collectively to close practice. Buran is able to start a lot of camaraderie among the players by asking them to work together even in the simplest of situations.
Although this sports season may seem short, it is an exhausting 10 weeks in which this father of two flips back and forth from teacher to coach with never-ending days and sleepless nights where he lays awake either planning a lesson for the next day or overthinking the drills done at practice. Once the season is over, he finds himself with a lot of free time which he utilizes to pursue his hobbies of surfing and rock climbing.
Buran has worked as a teacher for over 20 years, been in Carmel Unified for roughly 17 years and created a legacy through his involvement in the water polo program, Surf Club, Rock Climbing Club, Link Leader and biology classes alike.
Prior to teaching, Buran was working in marine biology. His then-girlfriend and now-wife Brenda encouraged him to try out teaching because she noticed he was missing something. Little did she know this one piece of advice changed everything for Kevin Buran and for each individual that has encountered him.