Was that me?
Chela Butler is a year removed from being a head volleyball coach, but not even time has taken away from her exasperation at what she did more than 19 years.
The former St. Michael’s head coach is now more grandmother than coach, more spectator than molder of young women.
But even she can’t believe what she has done, and that it happened to quickly.
“When I first started, I thought, ‘Three-hundred wins?’ ” Butler said. “ ‘I don’t know if I can do it.’ But never say never.”
Of course, she has the benefit of saying that 317 wins later.
Butler was recognized by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association for those wins at its luncheon Wednesday, as she reached the Level IV milestone (reserved for coaches who earn 300 or more wins), although it came two years after she reached that high-water mark.
Standing in line with her was a coaching colleague in Horsemen boys basketball coach Ron Geyer, who also earned his Level IV milestone and was selected into the NMHSCA Hall of Honor. Geyer remembered the irony in he and Butler earning their credentials at the same time.
“He said, ‘We got our Level III milestone at the same time, too,’ ” Butler remembered. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah! We did.’ ”
However, it wouldn’t have happened that way if not for a faulty memory. It was a milestone Butler forgot about after she retired in March 2011. That she has memories of eight district titles (six as a Lady Horsemen, two at Santa Fe High) and a Class AAA state title in 2002 also might be a cause.
Butler retired late in the school year, and her attention turned to other things — summer vacation and tennis — before realizing it.
She could have easily let it go, if not for the advice of husband Joe Butler, a former athletic director at St. Michael’s, Santa Fe High and Moriarty, who reminded her of what it took to get to that point.
“Joe was adamant about working too hard for too long not to earn his award,” Chela Butler said.
Knowing that the honor went to coaches who kept their coaching license, Butler decided to go through the requisite classes to keep it for a year even though she didn’t coach.
It was a small price for the reward of coaching hundreds of players — the ones who she admits made every win possible. And the respect of her peers.
“The way I looked at it, I felt like they respected me enough to realize what I had done in my career,” Chela Butler said. “They respected enough what I had done as a coach that I was still going to receive this award, and that is one of the best feelings in the world.”
And Butler can say, ‘That was me.’ ”
Contact James Barron at 986-3045 or email@example.com.