Passion For Running Drives Butler To Success

By  //  July 28, 2012

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Hall of Fame Inductee Excels As Coach

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Doug Butler never asks his runners at Holy Trinity to do anything he wouldn’t do. It could be quarter-mile splits on the track or charging up the hills at High Point in Cocoa, near the Econo-Lodge at 528.

DOUG BUTLER’s prowess as a marathoner, sparkling personal best times of 1:06:57 in the half-marathon, 30:54 in the 10K, 14:52 in the 5K, five Overall Male Track Shack Grand Prix championships and eight Space Coast Runner’s Male Runner of the Year awards put him into the Space Coast Runners Hall of Fame in 2001. (Images For

That special rapport has helped Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy rack up six Class 1A state titles in girls cross country and three state runners-up spots under Butler, who was enshrined in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in May.

The boys aren’t far behind with five Class 1A state cross country titles, a tie for another and three runners-up spots.

In girls’ track and field, the Tigers have won three Class 1A state titles. They have been the state runners-up twice.

In boys’ track and field, Holy Trinity has yet to win a state title. It was third in 2011 and second in 2010 in Class 1A.

“It’s huge when the kids see that I’m willing to do whatever I ask them to do,” said Butler, who has personal bests of 2 hours, 25 minutes in the marathon, 1:06 in the half-marathon, 30:54 in the 10K and 14:52 in the 5K. “It garners more respect when I say something than if someone 120 pounds overweight says something. I know what they have to go through.”

Since Holy Trinity has students in seventh through 12th grade at its Upper School in the northern part of Melbourne, Butler truly can coach his athletes.

Time To Develop

“A couple of extra years is priceless, especially at a smaller school,” said Butler, who grew up in Ohio. “I can develop two years ahead. A seventh-grade girl can be competitive. On the boys side, they’re not competitive as seventh graders.”

Butler, who took up running in the Air Force while stationed in Germany, studied at Brevard Community College after leaving the Air Force. He received his bachelor’s degree from Barry University and a master’s degree frm Capella University through an on-line program.

Surprisingly, Butler was not a runner in high school. He wrestled for four years, competing at 98 pounds as a freshman and sophomore before moving up to 112 pounds for his junior and senior seasons. He played both baseball and football through his sophomore year.

Butler teaches sports psychology at Holy Trinity.

After his military stint in Germany, Butler was assigned to Patrick Air Force Base for a year between March of 1985 to March of 1986. He already had fallen in love with Florida after a beach evangelical trip as a 16 year old. The assignment at PAFB ensured that Butler eventually would return.

He worked at McDonnell Douglas, which later became Boeing, from April 1988 to July 2009.

Butler, who was born on March 2, 1963, and his wife, Rhonda, have three children.

In 2002, Holy Trinity won its first girls cross country title. It scored 63 points to outdistance Maclay’s second-place total of 120. It was the first of three consecutive titles for the girls team. Holy Trinity surpassed second-place Oak Hall 42-54 in 2003 and topped second-place Jacksonville Espiscopal 37-60 in 2004.

Maclay halted Holy Trinity’s reign in 2005, edging the Tigers 57-67. But, that 2005 Holy Trinity team had its first individual cross country champion in Kayla Hale. She won the race in 18:30. A year-and-a-half earlier, she won the 3,200 meters in Class 1A as a seventh grader with a time of 11:31.41.

In 2006, Holy Trinity defeated second-place Maclay 37-113 as Hale won the second of what would be four consecutive cross country titles with a time of 17:32.9.

Community School of Naples defeated Holy Trinity 47-63 and 61-96 in 2007 and 2008, respectively, but Hale won the individual title both times  with clockings of 17:55 and 17:45.

Coach Doug Butler has guided Holy Trinity to numerous cross country titles. (image courtesy Doug Butler)

Back on top

Holy Trinity regained the top spot in 2009 and 2010, beating Maclay 92-97 and Oak Hall 50-101 in successive years.

Ninth-grader Julie Wollrath of Holy Trinity won the individual title in 2011 with a time of 18:18.19, but Holy Trinity finished third with 131 points. Providence (95) and Oak Hall (98) were first and second, respectively.

Hale won the 3,200 track title in 2006 in 11:00.30 as Holy Trinity won its first team title with 64 points to outduel West Palm Beach King’s Academy (54). She repeated in the same event in 2007 in 10:56.83 as the Tigers defeated second-place Orange Park St.Johns Country Day 59.3-46.

Hale won both the 1,600 in 5:03.68 and 3,200 in 10:45.14, but Port St. Joe topped Holy Trinity 79-57.33.

In 2009, when Hale won the 1,600 in 5:02.58 and 3,200 in 10:41.25 as a senior, Holy Trinity did not place among the top two as a team.

Holy Trinity was second in 2010 to Port St. Joe (94.5-61) and first in 2011 when it defeated Westminster Academy 77-58.

Kyle Cooke won Holy Trinity’s first individual boys cross country title for Butler in 2007 with a time of 15:50 as the Tigers tied Winter Park Trinity Prep 86-86 in the Class 1A team competition. David Kilgore won the Tigers’ second individual title with a time of 15:29.79 as Holy Trinity (35) finished second to Trinity Prep (30) in 2010.

In 2011, Holy Trinity defeated second-place Trinity Prep 37-55 to win Class 1A title.

Holy Trinity won three consecutive team titles from 2004 to 2006 before it tied Trinity Prep in 2007. It beat Trinity Prep 60-110 in 2004, Berkeley Prep 33-123 in 2005 and P.K. Yonge 83-84 in 2006. In 2008, it edged Trinity Prep 51-54.