By Rob Kiser
For Heath Butler, it was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make — and yet, there was no doubt it was the decision he had to make.
Butler resigned as Piqua varsity boys basketball coach this week to — pending board approval at the April 26 meeting — take a job as assistant principal at Piqua Central.
And for Butler — who has always been driven to impact young people’s lives — it was as simple as going where he could have the most impact.
Making it Piqua boys basketball program’s loss, with the hope (pending board approval) of being Piqua Central’s gain.
“It was a really tough decision,” Butler said. “It has always been my dream to be an administrator and help teachers teach and have the chance to effect a lot of kids lives. I wasn’t expecting it to happen this fast (pending board approval), but it did.”
Piqua athletic director Chip Hare has witnessed Butler’s impact first hand.
“He will continue to have a positive impact as an adminstrator (pending board approval) as he did as coach,” Hare said.
Which is something that has been a focus for Butler — even after accepting the boys basketball job six years ago.
“The thing is, it wasn’t about winning, although that came along with it,” Hare said. “For Heath (Butler) it was always about having a positive impact on their lives and helping them to become better citizens in the future. If that was playing college basketball — like with Colton Bachman — that was great. But, if it was as a college student and in their professional life, that was good too.”
Butler took over a Piqua program that had one win in two years and after two losing seasons, the Indians put together three straight winning seasons before going 8-15 this year.
“I am leaving the program in a better place, which is something you always want to do,” Butler said. “It feels good that we were able to build a winning tradition — putting together three straight winning seasons and we had a good year last year as well.
“The two things that standout is we did things the right way and the kids always played with a lot of heart. This is a blue collar community. They appreciate hard work and always gave us great support.”
And Butler feels the future is bright at Piqua.
“The cupboard is certainly not bare,” Butler said. “There is plenty for the community to be excited about, with return of players like (Ben) Schmiesing, (Hayden) Schrubb and (Nick) Rigola. I have confidence in the administration that they will make a great hire and that the program will be able to go on and do bigger and better things with the new coach.”
Hare hopes that will be a quick process.
“We want to have a coach in place at the start of summer for obvious reasons,” Hare said. “We want them here for all the summer stuff. We have opened up the job and hope to have all the applications in by April 21.”
And Butler will still have a close eye on the team — as he made clear when he met with his players to tell them the news.
“One of things I told the kids was I will always have their backs,” Butler said. “It was a tough decision to make. But, at the same time, I will always be there supporting them.”
And now – pending board approval — the students at Piqua Central will get same positive impact that Butler has had on the players that have gone through the Piqua boys basketball program.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.