Sometimes Sports Stories Make You Feel all Warm and Fuzzy Inside

February 11, 2011

It’s easy to find soul-crushing stories about athlete degeneracy. Seriously, it’s what I do for a living. There’s not much to it. But digging up tales of athletic virtue is a bit more challenging. That’s why when you come across the story of a true sports hero, it makes you feel human again. (Or at least whatever the Canadian equivalent of being human is.)

Vic Butler, head basketball coach at Erasmus High, is hanging up his whistle after 29 years of coaching.

Yes, he’s won a few games and made some memorable playoff runs. But the legacy he’s leaving behind extends far greater than the basketball court.

Every single player he’s ever coached (400 or so) has gone on to attend college.

"I always taught the kids that basketball is a just vehicle for getting where you need to go in life," said Butler, 54.  “My goal was to make a difference in the kids' lives.”

In the wake of his retirement some former pupils talked to the New York Daily News about the difference he made in their lives.

"Coach Butler is like a father to a lot of us," said Quasawn Williams, 18, a senior from Coney Island whose father has been in prison since 2006. "Without him, many of us wouldn't get into college.”

A wise man once said that teaching someone how to win games is a lot easier than showing them how to be a winner. I have no idea who that person was, but odds are he’d give Butler a pat on the back for his three decades of selfless service.

Photo: New York Daily News