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Washington Voices

Central Valley’s Michael Butler excels in sports and academics

Thu., May 23, 2013

Michael Butler, a track and football athlete at CV, earned direct acceptance into the Department of Engineering at the University of Washington. (Dan Pelle)
Michael Butler, a track and football athlete at CV, earned direct acceptance into the Department of Engineering at the University of Washington. (Dan Pelle)

Michael Butler is one of those rare people who enjoys a wide range of interests – and excels in all of them.

Take math, for example. Butler’s work in Advanced Placement math earned him direct acceptance into the Department of Engineering at the University of Washington, where he plans to study human-based design.

“It involves applied mathematics and engineering,” he said. “It’s about humans making new machines to do things like regulate hearts or to create prosthetic skin for burn victims.”

But math isn’t the only area of study that appeals to Butler.

“It’s kind of my natural disposition and I guess you could say that I’m naturally skilled in math,” he said. “But I like I lot of different things. I’m really interested in foreign languages. I’ve taken four years of Spanish. I’m even president of the Spanish Club this year.”

As a football player, Butler was a first-team All-Greater Spokane League selection this year, and he also excels at track and field.

“For as strong of a student as he is, he doesn’t give up everything else to be that,” track coach Chuck Bowden said. “He’s very talented academically, no doubt. The Advanced Placement track he’s taken in mathematics earned him his college education. But it hasn’t cost him being involved in school, being involved in the community and being involved in sports.

“We have students who do nothing but pursue sports, or pursue academics. Michael is different that way. Very few kids are capable of doing what he does. He’s one of the top kids we have in mathematics, in football, in track, in so many different things.”

Coming into his senior season, Butler wasn’t sure he wanted to play football.

“In my junior season in football I just wasn’t where I wanted to be,” he said. “I was kind of on the bubble between the junior varsity and varsity. Sometimes I played a little varsity, sometimes I was completely gone. It was frustrating. It felt like I was more out there for other people’s benefit and not mine.”

His senior season turned out to be all he could have wanted.

“I didn’t think I would do as well as I did, but I felt I was capable of performing at a high level,” he said.

On the track, Bowden has watched Butler’s talents stretch to every corner of the sport.

A standout sprinter, Butler picked up the javelin while recovering from a hip injury and, without having thrown in the regular season, qualified for the varsity district meet.

“He’s had an incredible track season, even though he’s battling a stress fracture in his foot,” Bowden said. He’s a top sprinter and he’s on both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. He was our key 400-meter kid and he’s one of our best long jumpers.

“In fact, I think that if he wanted to pursue it at some point in the future, he could be an exceptional decathlete. It would mean learning to pole vault, but everything I’ve seen of him tells me that he could easily learn that.”

It’s an intriguing idea, Butler said.

“I think I would really enjoy doing the decathlon at some point and I might think about trying it at the UW, but I’m not sure how that’s going to fit with what I want to do academically there. I may have to wait until later to try that.

“Meanwhile, I’m kind of intrigued about rowing and may try out for crew.”

“He’s probably the most decent kid you’d ever want to be around,” Bowden said. “I know that’s an overused reference, but he really is. He’s so academically strong that sports don’t rule his life the way it does with some kids. He’s one of the most well-balanced kids I’ve ever seen.

“One of the advisers asked me to describe what kind of a kid Michael is. I told him, ‘He’s AP in everything.’ ”

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