Story by Randy Whetstone Jr.
Photos courtesy of Hailey Johnson
The saga of Louisville’s high school boys’ basketball had some familiar storylines this season. Fern Creek returned to the state championship in back-to-back seasons, and Trinity found its way back to Rupp Arena once again. However, there were other programs – such as Butler Traditional High School’s – that did not make it to the state championship but still emerged as some of the best in the state.
The Butler Bears, coached by Kentreal Goodin, earned the best record in the sixth region and had their best season so far in Goodin’s three-year tenure.
Butler had a team-first mentality this season; they were not concerned with individual stardom or feeding their own egos with stat-stuffing numbers. Instead, the team was comprised of a group of guys who showed up everyday to work and improve while enduring a tough schedule and playing many back-to-back games without much mental preparation.
Coach Goodin says his coaching philosophy has been centered on “creating an environment that’s family-oriented and that emphasizes hard work while being a great teammate.” He believes in building a kinship between his players, and as a result, this led to an unprecedented season.
Where does the coach draw inspiration from? There are three individuals who have heavily influenced Goodin and, in turn, contributed to the success Butler experienced this year.
“I have been inspired by my high school and college coaches along my journey,” he says. “One was Paul Handley, high school assistant at Larue County, who gave me my first assistant coaching job at Western High School. There was also Tim Riley, who was my high school coach at Larue County, and Happy Osborne, head coach at Georgetown College, who I played for and won the 1998 NAIA National Championship with. These three guys have been the most inspirational coaches in my life.”
Because of this inspiration, he learned that it takes patience and hard work to produce great results in high school basketball. The Butler boys’ program has a culture built on brotherhood, and as brothers, Goodin established this motto with his guys: “We take the stairs.”
He explains, “There is no elevator to success. They have embraced this and understood there is not an easy way to be successful; only hard work will get you the things you want. The kids have taken that to heart and taken ownership.”
Butler’s success goes beyond the basketball court. The school itself is supported by a strong community and student body. Because of this, the team gives back to the community and works to influence the lives of others by working with local elementary schools.
“We make a point to do community service work by going to local elementary schools to mentor and read to kids,” says Goodin. “Mainly, (we want) to let them know our guys have been in their shoes and teach them what it takes if you want to play high sports while being ready for college academically.”
Although wins matter to this team during the basketball season, the greater victories are experienced when these players are able to give back and invest into the generation below them.
Goodin is optimistic about the future of Butler basketball. He believes the program will continue to prosper in the coming years by not only having excellent athletes contribute to the team, but by having quality people who are willing to sacrifice their time and energy for the betterment of both the team and the community. VT