Butler’s success in the classroom doesn’t go unnoticed.


Jason Howell

Senior Will Butler and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville’s Devyn Jambga square off during a corner kick during the Panthers’ 4-3 extra time loss on Nov. 4 at Lakeside Field.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

Eastern men’s soccer senior Will Butler was awarded the Athletic Director Award at the Student-Athlete honors dinner two weeks ago.

Cindy Miller, the Director of Academic Services for student-athletes, said the Athletic Director Award was created to present to the student-athlete who exemplifies what being a student-athlete means—Academics, Athletics, Community Service and Leadership.

“I am very proud when I see that they can handle the unique time demands and multiple responsibilities of being a Division I student-athlete,” Miller said. “Many of our student-athletes manage both academics and sport very successfully.”

Butler said winning the award was unexpected.

“I never planned on being recognized,” he said. “I don’t work for the recognition of others. I just try to make myself a little bit better every day.”

Four years ago, Butler and his parents started going to Haiti with teams of people. They do feedings for the starving, also put on soccer camps and support school soccer teams to support them staying in school.

“I also stay for longer periods of time working with Respire Haiti, providing coaching, trainings mentoring and doing what I can to help,” Butler said.

Respire Haiti was founded 24 years ago, according to www.repsirehaiti.org. The website also said its mission is “Respire Haiti desires to encourage, educate and empower restaveks, orphans and vulnerable children.”

Butler said he majored in psychology, because he wanted to help people.

“During my time working in Haiti, I have seen tons of people suffering from mental illness,” he said. “I decided to major in psychology to acquire the skills necessary to treat people beyond just their physical needs. There are a lot of people in Haiti providing food, shelter and supplies for the impoverished. However, there are very few people treating individuals suffering from psychological problems.”

During his time at Eastern, Butler ended his career 12th on the Eastern career assists list with 16. He scored two goals this season and had seven for his career.

Butler was a four-year starter at Eastern and was one of four players to start and play all 17 matches his freshman season.

He was named to the Summit League All-Newcomer Team his freshman season as well, and he scored a goal in his first collegiate game against Big Ten member Northwestern.

Over his career, Butler was able to start every game but one, which was in his sophomore season.

At the mid-point of this season, Butler was moved from midfield to defender and said it was a hard transition.

“I really hate playing defense,” he said. “But, I was willing to play wherever I was needed. The teams’ success is way more important that anyone’s personal preference. I was just happy to be playing the game I love.”

Academic-wise, Butler holds a 3.76 grade point average and was named to the Summit League All-Academic Team for three-straight years.

He credits his successes to his parents, coaches and teammates.

“They have all been there to guide and keep me on track every step of the way,” he said. “I would be nowhere close to where I am today academically, athletically or personally without them. They were the people that kept me working hard from day one to the present.”

Although Butler said balancing school and soccer has always been hard, he found that is has gotten easier to manage his time as he gets older.

“I was able to be successful at balancing school and soccer, because I knew if I wanted to be successful I had to give things up that others got to do,” he said. “This means that at times, I had to miss things like social events, watching television, going home for the weekend, and getting the proper amount of sleep.”

Butler said his parents have always been the biggest influences over his life.

“They have sacrificed to grant me opportunities that have vastly improved my life,” he said. “They are both extremely hard working people, and they have taught me there are never any excuses for not doing your absolute best. I would have nothing in my life without their hard work, sacrifice and guidance.”

Butler plans on working in the substance abuse counseling field and plans on getting his Masters degree in clinical psychology in the next few years.

He will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and a minor in sociology. After graduation, Butler will start a job as a substance abuse counselor in Naperville.

Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].