James Butler clinic was about character

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Before sending youngsters attending his third annual free youth football clinic to various workout stations on the field Saturday morning, former Bainbridge School Bearcats All-Region 1AAAA defensive back and New York Giants Super Bowl champion James Butler gathered them in the Centennial Field stands for a pep talk.

James, son of the Rev. James Butler Sr. and Nadine Butler of Climax, earned All Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honors as a defensive back with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and is now with the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League.

The main thrust of his remarks to the youngsters was the importance of building character. Youngsters attending the clinic, which is part of the James Butler Dream Program which focuses on mentoring, education and youth leadership, was the importance of character in their lives.

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“Character is the word of the day,” he told the youngsters, before sending them out to the various clinic stations to work on their fundamentals. “I want you to work hard and have fun while developing some fundamental football skills.”

Butler was joined at the clinic by a number of other former Bearcats stars, including safety Nick Williams and linebacker Darryl Gamble of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, offensive tackle Ray Dominguez of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks and quarterback Patrick Riley of Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.

James is an outstanding football player and young man. An honor Bainbridge High School graduate and deans list student at Georgia Tech,, he was an outstanding three-sport high school star.

He was a first team All-Region 1-AAAA football and basketball player during his high school days, and as a sophomore he won the state track championship in the triple jump.

I think BHS principal Tommie Howell gave James Butler the ultimate compliment when he called James the definition of a student athlete.

James is as good an athlete and person as I have ever covered in my 40 years as sports editor of The Post-Searchlight.

Former Bearcats Coach Jimmy Harris, who coached him at Hutto Middle School, said he would be very happy if his son grew up to be like James Butler.

Compliments like those from Tommie Howell and Jimmy Harris tell you what kind of a person he is.

Even during his high school days, James would frequently take time encouraging young children.

During his Bearcat days, he would often stay on the field to talk with and encourage youngsters who came up to shake his hand or give him a high-five.

James Butler is as good a young man as you will ever meet and a true Decatur County treasure. It has been my pleasure to cover just a small part of his life.