Vic Butler has been the basketball coach at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn for 29 years, and has acquired quite an impressive statistic: 400/400. That's 100%. And as of last week, he is officially retired.
Odds are, when you read that stat line, you probably thought he was taking a 400-0 record with him, which would be unheard of. But no, he only won one championship during his tenure. Actually, only made it to the one championship game. That 400/400 is something different; something much more impressive.
"I always taught the kids that basketball is a just vehicle for getting where you need to go in life," said Butler, 54, who also taught social studies and gym at the Flatbush Ave. school.
That may sound like a cliché that we all heard from our coaches in school, but Butler meant it.
Under his rules, any player that did poorly in class or got into trouble at school was suspended from the team. Seniors were suspended if they failed to submit college applications and financial aid forms ahead of deadlines.
You see, the 400/400 stat line that Coach Butler had was the number of his players that went on to college after high school. That's right, of the 400 players that Butler coached during his 29 year tenure at Erasmus High School, all 400 went to college.
"I still think about the lessons I learned from coach almost every day," said Ray Abellard, 29, of Flatbush, who graduated from Erasmus in 1999 and was the first in his family to earn a college diploma.
"We're very lucky we had him at Erasmus," said Abellard, who now runs his own basketball camp in Flatbush.
We constantly hear about the failures of our school systems, and the conflicts that go on within our government on how to fix the broken pieces, but we just don't hear enough stories like this one.
For the WCG readers who are members of the educational profession, thank you. Teachers are mentors... there is no avoiding that once you step into a classroom. And for those of you who make it your top priority to make a difference in children's lives, and to live up to that 'mentor' status, thank you.
To Coach Vic Butler: We are a Chicago Bears website. That, by default, has nothing to do with high school basketball, much less in New York. But we are proud to salute you, and proud to dedicate an article on our website to you. Thank you, Coach.