BREVARD COUNTY — Getting involved with exercise and sports is a vital aspect of children’s lives, and one local coach has made a name for himself in sports education.
Satellite High School's Coach Doug Butler has been recognized for his years of dedication and hard work in shaping the boys and girls cross country teams.
Coach Butler is one of eight finalists in the category of boys cross country for the 2019 National Coach of the Year Award, presented by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
“Back in December I got an email from the National Director of High School Coaches Association that I was nominated by Shelton Crews, the head of the Florida Coaches Association,” Coach Butler said. “I was shocked and pretty amazed. I’ve been nominated for a few things, and I’ve won coach of the year for the state of Florida, but never at this scale. It was humbling because there’s a lot of guys that have accomplished a lot around the country coaching.”
Coach Butler said he was one of 50 coaches nominated for this award, one chosen from each state. The winners will be announced June 27 at the association’s national convention in North Dakota.
The nomination was made in culmination of Coach Butler’s 20 years as a coach, who has seen success on the track with his boys’ team year after year.
“This will be my 20th season coaching, and this will be my fifth year of track at Satellite,” Coach Butler said. “I was at Holy Trinity for 15 years.”
During his time coaching the boys and girls cross country teams at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Coach Butler saw each team win eight state championships, in addition to the boys’ team as state runner up four different times. For the track team, the boys and girls teams combined brought home four state championship titles.
Since joining the coaching ranks at Satellite High School, Coach Butler has seen his cross country teams improve year upon year from seventh to second place, but for him, it’s not all about winning.
“I like keeping it fun,” Coach Butler said. “Kids are going to improve if they’re staying active in a sport. About 60 percent of kids are playing a sport when they’re 10 years old; they’re not playing that sport when they’re 16 and that’s because we place the emphasis on winning instead of fun.
“Kids will win, they’ll get better if you keep the emphasis on fun,” he continued. “To me, that’s where a lot of coaches make the mistake and they coach to the scoreboard. The world is coming to an end if they have a loss, and that’s really disappointing to me. Kids quit those sports and I don’t treat running that way. It’s not about me against you, it’s about me and the clock. I try to teach kids to try and improve yourself, try to make yourself a better runner tomorrow than what you were today.”
For someone who took a dislike to running in high school, Coach Butler developed a passion for training once he found a group of runners after he joined the United States Air Force.
Now, Coach Butler said running takes a back seat in his life to coaching, but he still enjoys competing in 5K runs.
“I started reading about how to properly train, and by the early ‘90s I was trying to make the Olympic trials in the marathon,” Coach Butler said. “By the late ‘90s, a friend of mine asked me to start the team at Holy Trinity. In the summer of 2000, I started working with their upcoming kids and building that program.”
In his spare time, Coach Butler trains the middle school students of DeLaura Middle School, as well as an adult and youth running group on weeknights.
In addition to coaching, Coach Butler teaches classes at Satellite High School and psychology classes at Eastern Florida State College.
Among his proudest accomplishments as a coach, Coach Butler said seeing the number of students get involved with track and field is one of them. When he started coaching at Satellite High School, there were 50 students on the team and now there are more than 100, he said.
“It’s probably my best accomplishment, seeing kids stick with the sport,” Coach Butler said. “Even if they’re not a state champion runner, the fact is that every kid needs to be treated the same.”
Coach Butler plans to keep coaching through another five years before passing the clipboard on. With more time on his hands, Coach Butler said he’d like to attend more of his son’s track meets.
Coach Butler’s goal is more than winning trophies and titles. It’s about building a program that gives students an opportunity to have fun while being active.
For more information, visit www.hscoaches.org.