Sometimes the best way to find a person’s true greatness is by looking at what they overcame. Not by what they accomplished.
By Matt Shepard
Published: Summer 1999
Adversity is something everyone has to overcome every once in a while in life. However, some people are faced with more adversity than others. Sometimes the best way to find a person’s true greatness is by looking at what they overcame. Not by what they accomplished. This is a story of a young man who, despite a debilitating circumstance, found a way to shine. Michael Butler suffers from a disease called hemophilia, where his blood does not clot. For an aspiring athlete, this news could be a total dream wrecker. For most people, a bruised shin might mean a very tender leg for a few days, for Michael, it might mean a trip to the Emergency Room.
Michael grew up around football with his father playing college football and then going on to coach. This atmosphere intensified Michael’s desire to play football. Disheartened by doctors strict orders to stay away from contact sports, Michael went to work on finding a way around this problem. After some thought, Michael was able to devise a plan to get onto the playing field. His solution: kicking & punting. After the decision to be a kicker and punter was made, Michael hit the weightroom and worked out hard. He wanted to be the best and knew that leg strength would give him the edge. When not in the weightroom, Michael was on the playing field practicing. Michael’s hard work payed off big time with a starting position on the high school team. Then, as the team’s kicker and punter, Michael was given the opportunity to make his dream of being the best a reality.
Throughout high school, Michael continued to work hard in the weightroom and with that hard work, he started to turn heads. Michael ended his high school career this year with All-State honors and was put in the Kansas Football Hall of Fame for Career Field Goals of 15, 106 PATs and 136 career points. He averaged 54.6 yards per kick off, 36.1 yards per punt, and a longest field goal of 46 yards.
Currently, as a 5’8”, 187 pound senior, Michael continues to excell in the weightroom. He has a 480 pound Parallel Squat and 330 pound Bench, but it is in the Olympic lifts that he really shines. Michael holds the state junior & senior records for the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Total. He is a 2 year member of the Olympic Junior Squad and has also earned many 1st & 2nd place medals at numerous national and state meets. All of this well earned recognition comes from a 125 kg (275 lb) Snatch, 155 kg (341 lb) Clean & Jerk, and a Total of 280 kgs (616 lbs). With his 280 kg Total, Michael missed qualifying for the 1999 Junior World Team by only 5 kgs. With this great strength, it’s no wonder Michael can kick and punt so far.
Michael, also, participates in the doctor-approved, non-contact sport of Track & Field as well; and, guess what?, he excels at it too. He throws the Shot Put and Discus. In his sophomore year, Michael took 1st in the Shot Put and Discus in the I-70 League, 3rd in the Shot Put and 2nd in the Discus in Regionals, and 3rd in the Discus at the Kansas State Meet. His best throws for his sophomore year were 144’ 11” in the Discus and 49’ 6.5” in the Shot.
After a full year of weight training, Michael’s strength continued to increase. With more strength, naturally comes farther throws. He ended his junior year track season with 1st place victories in the Shot Put and Discus in all of the following: I-70 League, Regionals, Kansas State Meet (Shot Put only, #2 in discus), Kansas State AAU Meet and Missouri Valley AAU Meet. To top off the season Michael was given the Missouri Valley AAU Most Outstanding Athlete in 1998 for Young Men’s Field Award. He ended the year with a Discus best of 162’ 1” and a Shot Put best of 56’ 2.5”.
BFS would like to congratulate Michael on his well deserving achievements and thank him for being a prime example for all of us to follow. Michael Butler is an Upper Limit Athlete!