Butler Basketball Club
The ZGReport Program Profile Series takes us to Newport, Rhode Island to talk with a program on the rise – Butler Basketball Club! The program was started by 2018 Jr. Celtics Coach of the Year, Randy Butler.
Butler Basketball Club is based out of Newport County, Rhode Island. The program began the Summer of 2016. Program director, Randy Butler, started with a vision of a program that is heavily involved in the local community. “We introduced ourselves to the community by holding a free community day event. We had a DJ, food and drinks, guest speakers and basketball. Local police officers teamed up with youth from their community and played basketball games against the police officers and youth from neighboring towns. The event drew hundreds of people and was essentially the beginning of Butler Basketball. We now have 9 competitive teams, 300 kids in our summer league and clinics throughout the year with up to 50 kids a night. We have continued the community game every year since.”
When asked about their mission statement, its clear the message is about more then basketball. Butler Basketball Club is all about the kids and the community and really embraces that message. Butler Basketball Club’s mission is to provide opportunities for the youth in Newport County to play the game of basketball in a safe, educational environment. Our goal is to help young people build strong character and realize their full potential while promoting respect, understanding and cooperation amongst their peers.
Butler Basketball Club will work to educate athletes on the positive aspects of life to achieve success. As a result, we aim to maintain positive relations with city managers, city schools, community businesses and nearby neighborhoods.
Butler Basketball Club’s volunteers and board members all share a common goal of creating an environment for the youth to compete, learn and socialize. This will help to instill the vital developmental assets of fair play, hard work and tolerance.
Running a quality program comes with its fair share of challenges. “The biggest hurdle we face is not having a home base, our own gym. Our town does not have a recreation center so we are always competing for gym time at our local YMCA and neighboring town rec centers. We hold free and low-cost clinics for the youth in our community but we are limited to how many kids we are able to serve due to the space available. The lack of a gym is by far our biggest challenge at the moment.”
Butler Basketball Club is one of the best programs off the court in the entire region. Their community outreach and service is unmatched. “Hands down I think our program stands out because every single thing we do puts the kids first. That’s hard to find sometimes in competitive basketball. We don’t go out to recruit the best player from all different places to essentially roll a ball out and let the athletes play. We focus on teaching fundamentals, working hard, having a good attitude and respecting your peers. We focus on learning to get the best out of the athletes we have, and if they don’t win every game that’s ok because they will definitely improve as athletes and teammates. They are held accountable to become successful. “
“We also do much more than basketball with our program. We do community service events and peer mentoring clinics. We adopt families at Christmas and provide gifts to low-income kids. Basketball is our tool but our program is much more than that, and that is the reason we started it to begin with.” Butler Basketball has an upcoming ‘Feed the Newport Community’ where over 100 Turkeys will be given away, along with hot meals! Other community events include winter hats for kids in low-income neighborhoods, movie nights, and even a Halloween dance party for the community. Admission to the dance party is a food donation.
“Butler basketball also started a community spread kindness day. Families involved in our program get together to prepare items to pass out free to the community. These items included laundry soap, flowers and change on vending machines. We provided socks and hygiene items to the local shelter, baked goods to our first responders and bus fare and umbrellas at bus stops. All of the kids preparing these items wrote positive notes on each item before heading out into town to deliver. The event was a huge success for everyone involved and the kids learned how to make a positive impact on their own community.”
A New initiative we are rolled out is what we call community spread the kindness day. Families involved in our program get together and prepare items to pass out free to the community. Laundry soap, flowers, hygiene items and more will be given to local shelters. Baked goods will be given to our first responders. The best part is the kids that help prepare these items write positive notes on them before heading out on the town to deliver. “The event was a huge success for everyone involved and the kids learned how to make a positive impact on their own community.”
The common theme here is community & family involvement. Butler Basketball is so much more then teaching kids the game of basketball and it shows with the growth of the program over the years. “I think people see us for what we are. When you attend any of our clinics, summer leagues or even competitive tournaments you see how family oriented we are. Everyone in our organization has a passion for what they’re doing from the athletes to the coaches and volunteers. We have been successful in getting the most out of our athletes and that has transmitted into eventually winning tournaments. With the standards we set for hard work and good attitude, along with learning and succeeding I believe we are becoming a club that parents want their children to be a part of.”
When asked about his favorite memory or moment while being a program director, Randy really had to think long and hard to come up with his favorites. “I would say watching the kids form bonds with the other players. For instance, we have a deaf girl on our girls’ team and I thought it was going to be difficult for our girls to learn to communicate and form a team bond. It was a seamless transition and it was awesome to see them come together on their own to make her feel no different than the rest of the team. Also, most of our kids come from 3 different rival towns so they go to different middle schools and high schools. Seeing them cheer each other on during Butler season is great and forms a healthy, respectful relationship for when they do face off with each other during the year.”
“Another proud moment was our trip to New Jersey for the Zero Gravity Beach Ball Classic. “We raised enough money for all 9 of our competitive teams to travel to New Jersey, stay in a hotel for two nights and compete in an out of area tournament. We all hung around the pool and had a big pizza party with the families where everyone hung out together and the kids from all three different rival towns spent time building bonds. All families were able to attend with the help of the fundraiser paying for the hotel. Everyone had a great time and we hope to be able to continue that tradition going forward each year.”
“Another great example was our six-week adaptive clinic we held for special needs kids. The smiles on their faces was priceless – as well as the youth helping teach them gained a lot from the clinic also.”
After sitting down and getting to know what Butler Basketball Club is about – its clear they are one of the premier programs in the area when it comes to performance on and off the court. Few programs impact the community the way they do, as well as winning numerous ZG tournaments along the way. The next phase for the program is to secure a home venue where they can expand to offer even more services to the local families and communities. A true bright spot on the ZG Circuit – be on the look out for Butler Basketball to represent the Rhode Island both on and off the court this Spring!
Follow Butler Basketball on Twitter and Facebook!