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Holy Trinity's Coach Doug Butler-Gearing up for Season #12

Published by
DrBob   on Aug 11 2011, 10:59 PM

 

 

Coach Doug Butler enters his 12th year as Head Coach for the Boys and Girls teams at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida, leading one of the most successful programs in Florida history.  Once again, his teams will be in the top tier of programs statewide.  Coach Butler is fond of saying "Champions are made in the off-season" and his teams have once again had a summer "full of miles" as they prepare for the 2011 Cross-Country season that lies ahead.

 

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DoctorBob:  After 11 years at Holy Trinity and a slew of State Cross-Country teams and individual champions, where do you see your program heading in the near, mid and long term?

 

Hopefully we will not drop off. The goal each year is to try and stay on the podium at the State meet. Top 2 every year is a big challenge but the kids here seem to rise to the challenge.  We have a very strong class of Junior High runners out this year so I think that if we keep doing what we have been doing, putting fun first, teach the sport, and winning last, we will continue to do what we have been doing when it comes November.

 

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DoctorBob:  How do you see your Boys and Girls teams stacking up against the best in the State this season.

 

Well, the boys team should be the best boys team I have ever had.  I had a great team back in 2005 but I really think this years crew is tired of being 2nd at State and have had a superb summer to take this team to the next level. The Girls team graduated 4 seniors from the top 8 and that hurts no matter how deep you are.  We lost a couple of team leaders and four great, fun personalities. So the girls team has a great deal of work to do if they want to get anywhere near the podium this year. Lots of time, so we'll see how much they want it.


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DoctorBob:  A lot of comparisons will undoubtedly be made between Kayla Hale and Julie Wollrath who is only now embarking upon her High School career.  It's no secret successful runners share common traits, so what's the common link and differences amongst runners that ultimately spell success.

 

Wow, good questions. Two very different girls though as far as personalities, but a couple of very good traits that both share to a "T". 

 

Both are very goal driven and are as coachable as any athlete there is.  Both will do exactly what I say and never question it. They know I have their best interest first and will always be there for them. So complete trust in coach and athlete is a KEY component.  Both are extremely bright and at the very top of their class academically.  Both are as competitive as you can get and hate to lose with a passion.  It's not winning that drives them, it's that they hate losing.


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DoctorBob:  Your runners went to the Warrior Running Camp for the first time this year in Georgia.  How was that experience for your team and yourself?

 

We had an absolute blast and the trails were the best.  I have been to 3 different camps and the trails at Young Harris are by far the best.


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DoctorBob:  As of right now, you have 50 plus harriers on this years team which is greater than 10% of the student population.  How do you ensure each and every runner is part of the team, has a good experience and continues with the program going forward?

 

Empowerment!

You have to give some of the control over to the upperclassmen and focus more on the younger runners. I try and do this more and more each year or your program will run dry. The older kids will run the show at the top and like the responsibility. This teaches them how to be good leaders and it lets the younger kids know you care about them as much as you do the 15 minute guy. Its tough being the only coach with 50+ kids but I enjoy seeing number 50 set that three minute season PR as much as I do seeing a team win State.


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DoctorBob:  Your system is a combination of principles you've learned and probably tweaked over the years.  Can you describe your program for the new runner and the progression for your older runners? 

 

Dang Bob, you make it sound like I'm an old timer and have been at this a while : )

Yea, I have learned a lot now entering my 12th season.  I remember working with a couple guys back in the early 1990's in a couple high schools here in Brevard County and not wanting to push them too hard.  I have learned that I could have been doing much more with those guys.  My first team here at Holy Trinity in 2000 were a bunch of beginners and they put in about 30 miles a week that first summer.  My beginners this year did the exact same. I have not changed how I coach beginners.  What has changed is that I have my older kids doing much more now than they used to.  I still emphasize having fun and teaching them the race is "within" and "not without".  It is you and the clock and we don't compare ourselves against anyone else.  We focus on "Task Outcome, not "Performance Outcome".  Improvement over winning!


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DoctorBob:  Cross Country and Track is often referred to as "our sport".  If you could instill or enhance our sport at both the administrative and competitive levels, what would be enhanced, changed or booted?

 

Wow, I could get in trouble here. The admin side of the house still likes to see our sport as individualistic and not team oriented.  That is frustrating to me.  With 50 kids on our Cross-Country team and 120 on our Track team in a school of 530 total students, to me should indicate a very close team.  Change at the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) level and at the individual High School level is so very hard to do.  There are a couple of rule changes I would like to see but that's a long story for another day.  I wish more administrators would get it, but I don't see that happening real soon.


 

 

Photo's courtesy Sherri Enders(sherri-enders.smugmug.com)

 

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2 comment(s)  
DrBob
Thanks for the kudos Coach Morris. Hopefully your teams will have a great season as well.
coachemorris
great interview with a great coach. coach Butler has built a program from scratch and made it into an outstanding program!
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