Butler Is Building A Legacy Beyond State Titles

Two decades into his cross-country coaching career, Doug Butler has almost as many state championships under his belt -- 17 -- as he does years of coaching.

Butler won those state championships at Melbourne Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, where he coached the Tigers for 15 years. In addition to the state titles, the Tigers were state runners-up 10 times.

But now he's the head cross country and track and field coach for Satellite High School, where he has coached two state runner-up finishes and a recent 2019 state championship winning team. A group of people standing on top of a grass covered field

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Butler's head coaching career began in the summer of 2000 at Holy Trinity. He built a program there from scratch -- his original group of athletes buying into his coaching philosophy based on high mileage.

Now, nearly two decades later, he pushes his athletes to strive higher and work harder more than ever. 

"A lot of kids want to be successful," he said. "They see that you've had success with other kids and they want that for themselves. That's probably my biggest philosophy change, I work them harder today than I did back then."

Butler's love for running started when he was 19 years old, when he joined the U.S. Air Force and the life lessons learned from the military influence his coaching style. 

"It taught me discipline, it taught me about punctuality and being on time," he said. "I'm a big stickler with that with the kids…I start everything on time, end everything on time and if you're late, you're getting left behind. The military was very good for me."

As a championship coach, husband, and father, Butler's faith is a big part of his life that influences his family and the athletes he coaches -- allowing them to see how he lives out his faith on a daily basis.

"That's a real important part of coaching for me," he said. "If I don't walk the walk and they can't see that, then I've disappointed my maker." Butler said. 

Winning races, competing for state championships, and leading athletes to the national level isn't on the top of his priority list. His priority? Making sure his athletes are having fun, enjoying themselves, and growing their love for the sport means the most to him.

"My number one priority is athlete satisfaction," he said. "If your athletes aren't satisfied, if they're not having fun, they're not going to continue to do it, so they're not going to get faster because they quit. ..We work really hard obviously, but our priority is fun."

As far as his legacy is concerned, Butler isn't worried about state titles and accolades. At the end of the day, he wants to be known as a coach who loved God, was a good husband, father, and a coach who truly cares about the runners who run and compete for him.

He wants all of the athletes that he's coached to have not only reach their potential in the sport, but in life as well.

"I like to have fun," he said. "I'm there to be their coach, but I'm also their friend...I care more about their success after running than just winning a state championship. I want to see them be successful in life."

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