Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

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May 9, 2014

Attorney turned basketball coach

In the fall of 2003, I first met John Butler. Two things were clear early — he was not your average coach and when interviewed, he could respond to every question with the answer he wanted to give.

The second part would seem to be a “duh” statement. Of course he was able to give the answer he wanted to give. But think about it. Immediately following a game, after a brief conversation with his players – win or lose – he comes out of a locker room and there is a guy waiting for him with a digital recorder. That guy many times asks the coach detailed questions about a game that had many moments to recollect. Some questions are general, some more probing about what led to the team’s success or failure on that night. Now, do this 20 or so times a year for 20 years. It’s not as easy as it seems.

Butler, though, always knew what he would say, and when the reporter asked a question that he was likely not expecting, he would answer it with a response that returned to his point. He was always delivering a message to his players. The post-game interview was one more opportunity to deliver that message.

The now former coach of the Barren County Trojanettes has been more than the guy who coached the girls basketball team at a high school. He announced his resignation as coach Tuesday. At least through social media, a number of his present and former players expressed they were upset with the news.

He teaches political science and has taught American history. There are present and former Barren County students who never played basketball for him, but love him has a teacher. There are players of his who may not have been his classroom students, but love him as a coach.

Butler did not have to pursue a career in teaching and coaching. He likely could have been successful as an attorney. He received his law degree and maintains his license.

“I have no plans as of right now to practice law, but I have always kept the option to return to the practice of law a possibility,” he answered to an question sent by e-mail.

He also has a Rank I teaching certification.

Accomplished in the classroom and in the professional arena he is.

Butler has also been successful on the sideline.

In 20 years as head coach, his teams have won three regional titles — 1997, 2004 and 2007.

The 2007 team has one of the most memorable moments in Trojanette basketball history when T.J. Thomas kept the team’s hopes alive by making the game-winning shot while sitting on the floor in the lane. A shot also known online as “Barren County’s Butt Shot.” (Look it up on You Tube.)

A classic Butler quote is in the Glasgow Daily Times’ story about that game.

“In tournament time, you have to defend and make some shots,” he said. “I hate to over-simplify but it comes down to making shots — there are no gimmicks.”

Consistency isn’t a gimmick and much of Butler’s success at Barren County was built on consistency. His first and only head coaching job has been with the Trojanette’s program. He pushed forth a legacy at Barren County established by Bobby Steenbergen and he didn’t drop the ball.

Along with the three regional titles are four runners up — 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009 — eight district championships and seven district runners up. In 20 years of coaching, only five times did the Trojanettes not make it out of the first round of the 15th District. Those five times, though, have been in the last five years.

The 15th District has been loaded with talent over the past five years, but the load has been at Monroe County, Glasgow and Allen County-Scottsville. In 2011, Monroe was regional runner-up; in 2012, Glasgow and Monroe played in the regional championship game; in 2013, Allen County was regional runner-up; and in 2014, Glasgow and Allen County played for the regional title.

Barren County’s record during these past five seasons is 55-68, but it is 13-36 in the past two years. Perhaps that has taken a toll on Butler.

It will be hard for Barren County to find a better person or coach to lead the program. Good luck to those in charge of replacing the attorney turned coach.

On the up side, Butler said Tuesday he plans to continue to be a teacher at the school. That’s a win for the district and the high school.

In the e-mail, he finished with these words in response to the question: “If there is anything else you would like to add, please do so.”

“Just thankful for all the support that I have been given during by career at Barren Co. I’ve had great support from the school and the administration throughout the years. Also, I’ve been lucky to have had some outstanding assistant coaches throughout the years who have been as big (a) part of our success as me. In particular, I want to thank all the players throughout my 20 years. The players are the ones that deserve the most credit. I have been fortunate to have coached some great players, and in particular great people. I will always cherish those memories.”

James Brown is digital editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. He can be reached by e-mail at jbrown@glasgowdailytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @jbrowngdt.

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