Athletics | Butler Stories
Back

Latest In

Athletics

Athlete Profile: Haley Hallenbeck ’18

Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

Haley Hallenbeck ’18 fell in love with lacrosse in seventh grade. Once she stepped foot on the turf, she never looked back. The Indianapolis native attended Park Tudor School and earned US Lacrosse All-American honors twice. Hallenbeck said her love for the sport has made a huge difference in her life. 

Haley Hallenbeck ’18“The lacrosse field is like home to me,” she said. “I fell in love with it because of the high-speed tempo of the game and high-pressure game situations.” 

Lacrosse took Hallenbeck across the United States. She spent her first two years of college at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Hallenbeck said she is happy to have lacrosse as a steady part of her life. 

“With a lot always changing around me, lacrosse has been the one constant thing in my life,” she said. “I appreciate all of the opportunities it has given me, as it will always have a special place in my heart.” 

Hallenbeck, a midfielder, said she recognizes the challenges thrown at her on a day-to-day basis. “As a midfielder, you have to be in great shape,” she said. “That is one of my favorite aspects of the sport. You run for miles and miles every match.” 

Butler is 10 minutes away from her home. She said she appreciates eating a home-cooked meal and spending time with her new family of teammates. 

“All of the run tests, sprint workouts, and lifts with my teammates are some of my favorite memories,” she said. “But they are always opportunities to see how hard I can push myself.” 

Athletics

Athlete Profile: Haley Hallenbeck ’18

Butler is 10 minutes away from her home. She said she appreciates eating a home-cooked meal and spending time with her new family of teammates. 

by Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

Read more

Butler Adds Women's Lacrosse

Katie Goodrich ’17

from Spring 2017

In a whirlwind of hiring, recruiting, and program building, Butler University has added a new varsity sport: women’s lacrosse. The Division I team began its journey as a BIG EAST program in February. 

Head Coach Cecil Pilson, who previously coached at Mercyhurst University for more than a decade, said he is glad Athletic Director Barry Collier and President James Danko had faith in him. 

“It’s definitely very exciting to start a Division I program, especially in the BIG EAST and at a university like Butler,” he said. “As a coach, you always want to be at a school where you can buy into the school’s philosophy and the academics. Butler aligned with everything I wanted as a coach.” 

In early 2016, Pilson worked tirelessly to contact potential recruits and encourage them to submit applications to Butler. “I recruited a large roster knowing that a lot of other D-I programs…did not have enough players,” Pilson said. “We definitely have the numbers now to be successful.” The team’s roster of 30 women includes first-year recruits, transfers, and former club team players. 

Senior and Captain Emma Annand was on the club team during her first three years at Butler. After playing for Granite State Elite and in high school, Annand said she considered playing lacrosse in college, but ended up really loving Butler and decided to play club. But then she got the opportunity to play varsity. 

“I met with Coach Pilson and he was very convincing,” she said. “And I thought, in 10 years looking back, if I didn’t do this, I would kick myself. And I have not looked back.” 

First-year student Journey Fischbeck is among the first class of recruits who will get the chance to play lacrosse for her entire career at Butler. She was originally going to attend Mercyhurst but decided to follow Pilson to Butler after falling in love with Butler’s big-school feel with small-school perks. She said the basketball team didn’t hurt either. 

The inaugural team’s season will be full of firsts. “Everything we do—no matter what—it makes history,” Annand said. “We’re writing our story and laying the foundation for years to come. We’re setting the mold for how the program is going to be, so we are not taking anything lightly. Everything we do has a lot of thought behind it because it is so significant.” 

Pilson said his No. 1 goal for the season is growth. “Regardless of wins and losses, what is really important is that the team is able to develop,” he said. “The thing I can control is players developing and becoming better, setting that culture for them to grow on.”

Athletics

Butler Adds Women's Lacrosse

In a whirlwind of hiring, recruiting, and program building, Butler University has added a new varsity sport: women’s lacrosse.

by Katie Goodrich ’17

from Spring 2017

Read more
Anna Logan volleyball

Anna Logan ’18

Hayley Ross ’17

from Fall 2017

Looking back, Anna Logan said the past three years at Butler University and with Butler’s women’s volleyball were meant to happen. 

“Volleyball recruits so early,” she said. “They told me, ‘You need to start looking at college.’ I was like, ‘I’m only 15.’ I was told that the Butler Head Coach saw me at a tournament and would love to have me come to campus. I went for my unofficial visit during the spring of my sophomore year in high school.”

Other colleges were interested in Logan but she had grown up just down the street from campus and Butler was the only one Logan would call.

What she didn’t foresee was that she would experience such early success—American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Region, first team All-BIG EAST, and AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors. She led Butler and the BIG EAST with 578 kills (ninth nationally) and 659.5 points (seventh nationally) during her sophomore season.

In her first two years, she compiled 944 kills, 666 digs, and 1092.5 points. She said her expectations for this season is to make it to the BIG EAST Tournament—only the top four teams in the conference make it—and also make it to the NCAA tournament. 

“Only 64 teams make it, but more than half of those teams are automatic bids from winning conference tournaments,” Logan said. “It’s very competitive, but it’s definitely something I am looking forward to accomplishing.”

Logan is an Accounting major. Her plan is to graduate in the summer of 2018, then stay for the following year (her senior year for volleyball) and graduate with her Master’s of Professional Accounting degree in spring 2019. She said that playing volleyball has not only helped her physically, but academically as well.

“Playing in college has definitely helped my time management,” she said. “I wake up at 5:45 AM and I still make enough time to
sleep. It is a skill I will take with me the rest of my life.”

Anna Logan volleyball
Athletics

Anna Logan ’18

by Hayley Ross ’17

from Fall 2017

Read more

It’s Spring—Batter Up! Tyler Houston ’18 Baseball Player

Hannah Hartzell ’18

Tyler Houston '18 was 7 years old when he first visited Butler University. A Finance major from Brownsburg (Indiana) Houston frequented Butler’s sports camps as a child.

So when the time came to choose a school for himself, Butler immediately came to mind. “I definitely wanted a small school,” he said. “When I came for a tour of the campus, it was everything I remembered. I could see myself here.”  

More specifically: He could see himself as a student athlete here.

“I had an opportunity to play baseball and accomplish my academic goals,” he said.

That’s exactly what Houston has done. After a standout, first-year season, Houston was named second team All-BIG EAST. In spring 2017, he was named first team All-BIG EAST and led the Bulldogs in home runs. However, Houston has developed more than just his athletic ability.

“The first two years were pretty big adjustments,” Houston said. “Once I settled in though, I got better at managing my time.”

“The business program is amazing,” he said. “I’m in a Portfolio Management class right now and I’ve gotten really into investing stocks. Before, I didn’t really understand what that was.”

He has also grown as a leader.

During his first year at Butler, Houston said a senior baseball teammate took the time to mentor him.  “Having that mentor was great,” Houston said. “Now I’m in his shoes and I get the chance to do the same thing for younger athletes.”

In the process, Houston said he has found lifelong friends.

“My favorite part is being around the guys,” he said. “The fun atmosphere is incredible.”

As far as baseball, well he’s not quite done with that either. “Our goal this year is to compete, qualify, and win the BIG EAST tournament,” he said. “And if the opportunity [to play baseball post-collegiately] presents itself, I might pursue that.”

pace temple

Pace Temple ’19

Kailey Eaton ’17

from Fall 2017

Pace Temple always wanted to play Division I football. He also wanted to get a great education that would support him in his postgraduate life. Butler was the perfect fit. 

“Butler offered an opportunity for me to challenge and push myself to play Division I football while allowing me to have a life outside of the sport. It offered an incredible education for life after football,” Temple said. 

In 2016, he started all 11 games for the Bulldogs and was named Second Team All-PFL and Second Team All-Academic PFL. He led the team in receiving yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns, and surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark in three separate games. 

“My coaches and teammates challenged and pushed me to grow as an athlete and gave me the opportunities needed to succeed,” Temple said. 

Temple, a Lacy School of Business Marketing and Finance double major, chose these majors because he enjoys collaborating with others to create projects and presentations and hopes to pursue a career in Marketing. He served as the Chief Marketing Officer of his Real Business Experience (RBE) group—BU Bands and Accessories—a student-run business that sold Butler wristbands and spirit wear to fans. “I love having the opportunity to work and grow as an athlete while being pushed equally to grow and work as a student.”

pace temple
Athletics

Pace Temple ’19

by Kailey Eaton ’17

from Fall 2017

Read more

It’s Spring—Batter Up! Madi Christiansen ’18 Softball Player

Hannah Hartzell ’18

If Madi Christiansen ’20 is on the softball field, chances are: Her Mom and Dad are in the stands. The student athlete from Etters, Pennsylvania said her parents have watched nearly every softball game she’s played for the Bulldogs.

“My dad is a huge Butler fan,” she said. “Initially, he and my mom worried about me being so far from home. But now they see how much I really do love it here.”

As a first-year student and athlete at Butler, Christiansen became very tight-knit with her new softball teammates as they made their way to the BIG EAST semifinals. “I’ve made so many friends through softball and through my classes,” she said. “That’s something I wanted when I came here.”

As an Entrepreneurship major with a 3.9 GPA, one of Christiansen’s favorite classes was the first-year real business experience last year, where she worked with a group to develop an imaginary product and business plan.  “It was great because we were actually doing something that will help us out in the future,” she said. “Plus, it helped me meet people.”

“I definitely like the small class sizes as well,” she said. “All my professors know my name and they’re very accommodating with the softball schedule.”

During the spring season, the softball team is gone every Thursday and Friday. But that doesn’t mean Christiansen is idle on the other days. “We have 6:00 AM practice four times a week,” she said. “The set schedule is helpful, but I have to make sure I go to bed early.”

Still, she said the whole Butler experience is worth it.

Whether it’s a trip to Smoothie King; a winning game; or a weekend movie night, Christiansen said she enjoys spending time with her Butler family.

“Last year, I was excited to go home for fall break,” she said. “But after four days, I realized that I really wanted to come back to Butler. This feels like home now.”

Q&A with Coach Jordan

Kelan Martin ’18

from Fall 2017

My first memory of basketball was probably from an elementary school league. I couldn’t dribble—I was terrible. But basketball must have been in my blood. My great uncle put up a goal on the side of our garage and took up the grass. Some of my fondest memories are of my neighborhood buddies and me playing basketball for hours on a dirt court in our backyard. I was filthy dirty at the end of every day. But, I loved every minute of it.

              —Butler Men’s Basketball Head Coach LaVall Jordan ’01 

 

College of Communication Sports Media Major Kelan Martin spends some one-on-one time with new Head Men’s Butler Basketball Coach LaVall Jordan.

KM: Talk about your younger playing career.

CJ: I wasn’t the best player on my high school team. I played basketball my freshman year, but I didn’t play varsity until my sophomore year. I didn’t start as a sophomore either, but I did play. I come from Albion, Michigan, which is a pretty small town. But, the whole community would come out to watch high school basketball for entertainment and they would really get behind their team. It was a great support system and atmosphere.

And, something about that community feeling that I grew up with was exactly what I felt when I came to visit Butler. Everyone was behind the basketball program at Butler and the program itself had a big vision to do something special. Personally, that was a big connection when I came as a recruit. I just knew I wanted to come and be a part of it as a player. Now, it truly is a dream come true to be back at my alma mater as a coach.

When I was in the 8th grade, our basketball team made a good state tournament run but we lost in the state championship title game to Detroit Country Day and a guy named Chris Webber.

Fast forward a few years to when I was a high school player and we were once again in the state championship game against Detroit Country Day, this time playing against another guy people might know, Shane Battier. And we lost again. But the whole community was behind us rooting for the team. That was a great moment.

KM: The Butler family, students, and the community are pretty loyal Butler fans. What do you think you can expect from them?

CJ: That is and was a big part of the attraction for me to come here even as a player. At that time Butler wasn’t as much of a national name as it is now. People would stop and ask us, “Where is Butler?” But, I had already had that experience playing for a small school that ended up competing with some pretty big name schools.

But something about that small Butler community attracted me to the campus and the program. It seemed like everyone was behind the basketball program and the program had a big vision to do something special. Listening to Coach [Barry] Collier and hearing what his vision was and what he saw Butler Basketball becoming was where I wanted to play.

KM: By the way, how was the coach you played for at Butler?

CJ: Well, he was just great. You know what, one of the things that my father appreciated about Coach Collier was that he was fair. You knew where you stood and you either got it done or you didn’t and there was heavy accountability. I responded to that. If you were getting the job done at practice—you earned playing time.

And, so that allowed the team and everyone in the program to know what was expected and have guys step up and do the job that needed to be done for the team to be successful. There were never any excuses on what year you were or how big you were…it was just the job description and “do it” for the good of the team. If you worked consistently to get better, then you got the chance to play. But the team was always bigger than any individual member. And, that is what everyone knows Butler is all about now.

KM: Talk about your ups and downs as a player.

CJ: That is a great question. As a freshman I didn’t play a lot. There were five seniors on the team then. So I had a lot to learn. I thought that I was going to come in and take somebody’s spot. That is what every freshman thinks—that you are going to conquer the world and you are going to come in and play right away. And so I learned a lot pretty quickly. And, by the end of my freshman year, I had earned some playing time.

Coach Collier would always ask me the question: Do you want to look good or be good? Because I had some “look good” in me on my way in the Butler door. I learned a lot about the substance of the game and about what it actually takes to be a good player and to be a good teammate, and to be part of a good program. Once I understood these things and committed myself to them, I was able to earn some playing time as a sophomore.

Now, funny side story—in the past I have been the coach working with the guards and point guards. As a player, Coach Collier started me at point guard. Butler had brought in Thomas Jackson, who is a Butler Hall of Fame point guard, and one of the best to ever play here.

The first four games of the season, I am starting at the point and averaging over 25 turnovers a game. We are 0 and 4. Coach Collier flips Jackson and me and he runs the point and all of the sudden we got better. So, Coach knew better. Thankfully, we did get better and were able to experience three tournament runs over four years and then the last year to finally win a NCAA tournament game. That was a big deal back then because Butler hadn’t won a tournament game yet and we were just getting over the hump.

KM: Do you maintain relationships with past teammates?

CJ: I’m probably more in touch with my Butler college teammates than my high school teammates. A few of them were even in my wedding. But I do still see and talk to a few from high school and not necessarily were they players. You’ve always got those couple of guys that are just your close buddies—your friends. It is ironic that you spend about 18 years at your community school and only four years at college but the connections that I made at college with players like Mike Marshall and Jason Meyers and the seniors on my first team—those are special guys. And, they laugh and remind me what I was when I walked through those gym doors and support the transformation to what I am now.

It is special to hear from them and they are all rooting for me, the other coaches, and the whole team—and I feel a responsibility to succeed for all of them because you know they all have your best interest in mind—the best interest of Butler. At Butler everyone really does become your family.

KM: What made you want to become a basketball coach?

CJ: I didn’t always know that I wanted to coach. I wanted to play. My dream was that I was going to be the first Butler player to play in the NBA. That wasn’t reality. I played a year overseas in Norway after I graduated from Butler and played a year in the D League in Hunstvillle, Alabama. Then, after that, I decided that I didn’t want to go overseas to play and was trying to decide next steps to stay closer to home.

At Butler, I studied Journalism and Public Relations with an emphasis on the PR side of things. I was out interviewing for a few jobs in Marketing and Sales and PR. And, then, Coach Lickliter, who was here at the time, offered me a spot.

At that time, Mike Marshall was the Director of Men’s Basketball Operations (DOBO) but he really wanted to be an Athletic Director. And as he moved into administration, Coach Lickliter gave me the opportunity to try out a basketball staff position. So I quickly jumped into the DOBO seat and fell in love with the mentorship piece of the job. In the DOBO role you are not coaching, you are doing all of the operations and administrative things for the team that need to happen, but you do get to be a mentor and big brother to the players, especially the first-year players who don’t know anything. Sharing the Butler philosophy, the basketball stuff, was probably easier because this was a system that I knew and that I could talk about and communicate to the players.

I always say that coaching is a calling. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a coach. But then you get called to do it…and you can’t ignore that feeling that this is what you are supposed to do.

KM: Tell us about the new coaching job here at Butler and what does it mean to you and your family?

CJ: It means a lot. It is obviously unique to be able to come back and coach at your alma mater. For my family, my wife is from Indianapolis and attended North Central High School, so she is coming home. And my three daughters get to see where Daddy went to school and be around what I had been around during my college years. They have heard me talk about Butler as they have grown up and now they get to live it with us and that is special.

And, obviously, I feel a great responsibility to make sure that the guys that are playing here understand, and for them to continue to understand, how special it is to play at this high level of basketball and how special it is to play that basketball here at Butler.

I think that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us…we are going to do everything we can to make the Butler family and community proud and we are going to need the players that have been in the program the last couple of years to really step up and mentor the new young players.

CJ: You know, coaching here at Butler is a dream come true. We can all feel the energy building toward that first tip and excited about what is next for the program, the team, and the fans.

We are just going to work every day to make everyone proud to be a Bulldog.

Athletics

Q&A with Coach Jordan

by Kelan Martin ’18

from Fall 2017

Read more

From Tel Aviv to Indianapolis

Jackson Borman ’20

from Spring 2018

Butler University tennis player Aviv Ben Shabat ’19 transferred from the University of North Carolina Wilmington to Butler after one semester. 

That was a comparatively minor transition in his life. 

Ben Shabat grew up in Israel, playing tennis all through his childhood, with plans to play at a higher level. When he was 18, he was required, under the Israeli Defense Service Law, to serve in the military. 

“I got special service because when I started mandatory service I was ranked No. 1 in Israel for the under-18 age group,” Ben Shabat said. “They say that you don’t have to go to the combat field because they don’t want to ruin you and the 15 years that you have already invested in tennis. They want you to still represent Israel.” 

Ben Shabat worked in a kitchen cooking and serving meals to soldiers for six hours a day in Tel Aviv. The base was close to where he trained, so after work he could stay focused on tennis. 

“It wasn’t the best time of my life, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and every other Israeli has to do it too, no exceptions, so that’s the reality,” he said. 

When Ben Shabat finished his military service, he moved to North Carolina but struggled in Wilmington. He decided to transfer to Butler because of the tennis program and the small classes. 

“I came here and everyone was super nice and very welcoming and everybody wants to help,” he said. “For me especially, small classes are super important because in bigger classes you are just getting lost, and the professor doesn’t even know what your name is.” 

Ben Shabat is studying Management Information Systems and has been excelling, contributing to the men’s tennis team’s 3.376 cumulative GPA, which ranked second among Butler’s men’s sports teams. He decided on MIS because it would be useful in Indianapolis as well as in Tel Aviv. 

“Israel is a big startup nation, so I want to keep the option open to get a job in the tech field if I go back to Israel,” he said. “I had to pick a major that could combine the two worlds of Israel and the United States.” 

He’s also excelling at tennis. Ben Shabat said his best memory came on the court last year when the Butler men’s tennis team took home the BIG EAST Championship after finishing last the previous year. 

“It’s kind of a Cinderella story because we were in the bottom of the conference and no one expected Butler to win the title and then we ended up winning every match,” he said. “It was a great experience because I was the last point in the final, so everyone came to watch my match. It was a great moment, maybe one of the best moments of my life.” 

AcademicsAthletics

From Tel Aviv to Indianapolis

Ben Shabat worked in a kitchen cooking and serving meals to soldiers for six hours a day in Tel Aviv.

by Jackson Borman ’20

from Spring 2018

Read more
boots and flowers

From Firehouse to Aspire House

Marc D. Allan

from Fall 2017

Butler Volleyball Coach Sharon Clark is a magician of sorts. In her spare time, she turns old rubber rain boots into planters, converts a weightlifting bench to a patio seat, and salvages a barrel of discarded shoe soles to recycle into a sculpture.

“I don’t like putting things in the landfill,” she said.

And now for her greatest feat: Clark and her husband, Tim, are turning a long-vacant 1897 fire station, located in a downtrodden neighborhood about four miles southwest of Butler’s campus, into a community center complete with an art studio, kitchen, and residential units.

“When we found the building, we got inspired by that neighborhood and wanted to help revive it,” Clark said. “Our plan and our goal is to be that first beacon of light, the first renewed piece. Our goal is to help revive that neighborhood one block at a time.”

The Clarks bought the two-story brick firehouse in 2012 because Sharon wanted workshop space to reclaim and repurpose furniture. The building was boarded up, tagged with graffiti, and filled to the rafters with all kinds of junk—an inoperable forklift, boxes and boxes of shoe heels and shoe polish, church pews, engine blocks. It was such a mess that it actually scared children who passed by on their way to the neighborhood elementary school.

Two years ago, local community organizer LaShawnda Crowe Storm connected Clark with neighborhood residents and students from nearby Marian University to decorate the outside of the building with a mural. “Kind of like tagging it back,” Clark said. She put up an A-shaped fence to keep people from dumping in the back lot and gave the building a name: Aspire House. “For the community to aspire to something higher.”

The Clarks have since replaced the leaky roof, gutters, and most of the windows. One side of the building has been tuckpointed, an inner wall has been repaired, and decades of detritus has been discarded.

Sharon and Tim, Vice President of Programs for the Simon Youth Foundation, work on the building nights and weekends (“and weekends when you coach volleyball aren’t actually weekends”), during summer and spring break. Friends come to help, and Sharon’s dad has come in from California several times for a week at a time.

Sharon envisions the building with an art studio in front, where neighborhood kids can participate in creative enterprises and learn a skill, and some kind of commercial kitchen in the back. “This is a food desert over here,” she said. “There are no restaurants, no stores, no grocery store. So there’s a need.” Upstairs will be two residential units.

The ultimate goal is to make the building financially self-sustaining. She figures they’re about two years from finishing—if they get grants. If the project ends up being self-financed, it will take much longer.

“I will be proud when this is done,” she said. “Even with the stress that you go through—am I doing the right thing?—every time someone stops and says, ‘It looks great’ or ‘good job’ or ‘thank you,’ you get your energy going again. That makes it worthwhile.”

boots and flowers
Athletics

From Firehouse to Aspire House

by Marc D. Allan

from Fall 2017

Read more

From Detroit: Fans Reflect on Victory

By Rachel Stern

DETROIT—It is only about 30 minutes after No. 10 Butler has knocked off No. 7 Arkansas in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, but Jessie Eastman must put the celebration on a quick hold of the modern variety. “We are making a pit stop because we took too many pictures, so all of our phones are dead,” says Eastman, a 2015 Butler graduate who lives in Detroit and attended the game with seven friends. “We had a blast and probably took too many pictures. We are going to stop at home to charge our phones and then keep the celebration going.”

All of Bulldog Nation has reason to celebrate. During a game of runs – Butler jumped out to a 21-2 lead in the opening minutes, only to see that disappear late in the first half – it was the Bulldogs that took control again early in the second half and pushed the lead back to double digits en route to a 79-62 win. Now, the Bulldogs will take on 2-seed Purdue on Sunday in an all-Indiana matchup. The Boilermakers beat Butler 82-67 in the Crossroads Classic in December, but the Bulldogs lead Purdue 2-1 in head-to-head Crossroad matchups. The winner of Sunday’s game will advance to the Sweet 16 next weekend.

“We had a much louder, larger crowd than Arkansas today. There was a huge Butler showing and it felt like a home game. Of course, nothing beats Hinkle, but it was pretty close,” Eastman says. “It will be really exciting to see the atmosphere against Purdue. Today, we saw Purdue fans rooting us on, but of course on Sunday, it will be a completely different story.” Eastman, who has lived in Detroit for about a year, was hoping on Selection Sunday that Butler would play in Detroit. After the bracket was released, her phone started blowing up. She has fellow Butler grads from Indianapolis and Chicago asking to stay on her couch, and now, they just extended their stay.

“Oh, we are definitely starting to look into tickets and will be here through Sunday,” says Kate Allen, who graduated from Butler in 2015 and now lives in Indianapolis. “Typically, I am bad luck for Butler, so I am always skeptical, but today they certainly proved me wrong. This was my first tournament game in person and it was amazing.” Some of their friends who live in Chicago already had St. Patrick’s Day plans on Saturday. After Butler beat Arkansas, they hit the road to drive back to Chicago and plan on returning to Detroit for Sunday’s game.

“The tournament atmosphere is just so exciting,” Eastman says. “It is so great to see all the fans. The fact that we are going up against Purdue adds another level of excitement, for sure. We need to prove our worth after the Crossroads Classic loss and I think we are definitely ready for that comeback game.”

Bulldog Fans
Athletics

From Detroit: Fans Reflect on Victory

DETROIT—It is only about 30 minutes after No. 10 Butler has knocked off No. 7 Arkansas in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, but Jessie Eastman must put the celebration on a quick hold of the modern variety.

Butler Roots Run Deep

By Rachel Stern

DETROIT—Out on the hardwood, toward a far corner of the court, the shortest player with the floppy blonde hair puts up three-pointer after three-pointer. Swish, swish, swish. At one point, he hits nine in a row.

He is 5 feet 11 inches, and Campbell Donovan wearing number 0 on his jersey is in a land of giants. It is the Thursday before Donovan, a freshman walk-on, and No. 10 Butler will take on No. 7 Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  

The team is at open practice – think glorified shoot-around – but to Campbell, this is serious business. Any chance to work on his game, be a part of the Butler team, and, his dad Rick jokes, put up shots, is a good day. And he knows to never take it for granted.

That’s because, despite basically growing up in Hinkle Fieldhouse, he was very close to never putting on the Butler jersey at all.

The Butler Bond Begins

Donovan Family
          Donovan Family during 2015-2016 Season

Rick Donovan grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana during Hoosier Hysteria, dreaming of playing basketball at the college level. He rooted for Purdue, but when it came time for Rick to head off to college, it looked like he would have a good chance to play at Butler. Joe Sexson was the head coach and the team wasn’t great, Rick said, but he was excited. “Once you get that Butler blue in your blood, Purdue and everyone else becomes secondary,” he says. “I had an amazing experience there.”

Barry Collier took over for Sexson during Rick’s senior season and Rick says, he could tell the program was starting to move in the right direction. After graduating in 1990 and enrolling in law school at Valparaiso, Rick bought season tickets to the Bulldogs and he hasn’t looked back since.

Rick and his wife, Sabrina, still live in Fort Wayne, but that hasn’t stopped them from traveling to Indianapolis for most games. And, it turns out, the Donovans have had several reasons to keep coming back to Hinkle. And keep coming back, and back, and back.

Another Donovan Joins Butler

Campbell remembers the drive from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis. There have been so many trips back and forth, but this one, he says, sticks out. His oldest sister, Ali, was on the brink of heading off to college at Butler, but first, she had a cheerleading tryout. Campbell was devastated.

“I remember it was her tryout day and I was in the backseat so sad,” he says. “She was about to leave home and I really didn’t want her to leave yet. She is 10 years older, so I remember thinking how upsetting it would be without her at home. But I also remember how excited she was to have the chance to cheer at Butler. We grew up at Hinkle with my dad watching basketball games and everything, so this was huge for her. I just remember being real sad, but also real nervous for her and just thinking what a big deal it was.”

Ali ended up making the cheer team. Donovan No. 2 to be connected to Butler Athletics. Rick says he made a distinct effort to remain open-minded during Ali’s college search. They made about four college visits and he was very impressed with all the schools.

“When Ali decided on Butler, let’s just say I was extremely happy,” Rick says. “It was really neat and special to see my kid on the court. I remember people would always ask, did you ever think you would see one of your kids out there, and I always would think of Campbell with hoops, that’s just what would come to my mind. But seeing Ali cheer was very special.”

With Ali’s four-years came more trips to Butler sporting events, says Campbell. He remembers going to tons of basketball games, football games, and traveling all the time.  With all of the travel, Rick says, he started to see his son’s motivation and passion grow. Rick and Campbell used to stay up late and watch Butler compete in the Atlantic 10 on television when they had away games. But once Ali joined the cheerleading team, Rick says, they started traveling to more and more games.

“I literally grew up in Hinkle,” Campbell says. “The coolest thing was she was on the cheer team during the 2010 and 2011 National Championship runs. This was the time that Butler was really starting to become a household name and gain national prominence. I knew before that it was cool my dad played in college and that was a big deal. But this was when it really hit me how much of a big deal playing for Butler was. It was then that I decided, OK, I really want to play basketball for Butler one day.”

A Dream Comes True

Rick and Campbell have walked out of Hinkle Fieldhouse together too many times to count. But this time, Rick made a beeline to Scotty’s Dawghouse. He had to talk some sense into his son.

The two of them had just met with, Butler’s head coach at the time, Chris Holtmann. They expected the meeting to just be a chance to get to know one another, let Holtmann know Campbell was interested in potentially walking on, and find out what the process would be like. At that point, Campbell was being recruited heavily by smaller schools, such as Division III’s DePauw. He knew he would have a great experience at a smaller school, get a lot of playing time, and that these smaller schools were very interested in him. However, Butler was always his dream.

Rick happened to play in an alumni game in fall 2016, which led to a phone call with former Butler assistant coach Terry Johnson, which led to this very meeting with Holtmann at the end of the season. An hour-and-a-half into the meeting, Rick couldn’t help himself. He kept looking over at Campbell, thinking, is this really happening.

“It seemed like Coach Holtmann was going in the direction of offering Cam a walk on position,” Rick says. “We just were looking at each other, like, is he really going to offer this? It was such a surprise. We were days away from probably going with one of the smaller schools, just because we didn’t know if this was an option for Cam. I really think if I pushed Cam with one finger he would have fallen over.”

Holtmann ended the meeting by telling Campbell to give the walk on role some thought and then to get back to him. Campbell said thanks and left. Rick couldn’t believe it. “I told him, you have been waiting 18 years for this, working your butt off, dreaming about this, the heck you will think this over,” Rick joked. “Cam told me he didn’t want to look too anxious, but after lunch he walked right back over to Hinkle and told Coach he couldn’t wait to join the team.”

Back to the Tournament

Campbell with Sisters
         Campbell with sisters at Final 4 in 2010.

There was the time Roosevelt Jones hit a floater at the buzzer to beat Gonzaga at Hinkle. Campbell remembers storming the court from 15 rows up. Then there was the time he watched in person as Butler advanced to their first ever National Championship in 2010, knocking off Michigan State. He remembers watching with his entire family. He also remembers missing the Final Four the following year because of a family vacation in Florida. He recalls looking for his sister, who was a cheerleader at the time, on TV. He was bummed he wasn’t there as he watched from the beach.

“Having all these memories, and now being in Detroit as a part of the team, it’s just mind blowing,” Campbell says. “Having this opportunity to be in the tournament, even though I am just a small part of it, but knowing I am a little part of something special, is just so incredible.”

Rick and Sabrina will be in the stands on Friday. Their two daughters will join on Sunday, if Butler advances. “Friday will be very emotional for me,” Rick says. “Butler has been great to us as a family. I am smiling all the time when I walk into Hinkle, but this will definitely be a different level of excitement getting to see Cam achieve something he always had in the back of his mind, surrounded by so many great teammates and friends.”

Campbell was one of the last one’s off the court Thursday. Putting up a few last shots, taking in every last second on the court. His first time being a member of an NCAA Tournament team, something he has thought so much about. “I try and put myself in the shoes of where I was last year, not even knowing where I was going to go to college,” Campbell says. “I remind myself all the time how lucky I am to be at Butler, not only as a walk on, which is amazing because so many kids would give a lot to be in my position, but to just take classes here and be at such an amazing University. It is really a great all around place and I am enjoying every moment.”

 

Team at Practice
AthleticsPeople

Butler Roots Run Deep

DETROIT—Out on the hardwood, toward a far corner of the court, the shortest player with the floppy blonde hair puts up three-pointer after three-pointer. Swish, swish, swish. At one point, he hits nine in a row.

Team at Practice

Butler Roots Run Deep

By Rachel Stern

Zach Hahn ’11

Zach Hahn ‘11 has always been a team player.

A four-year member of the Butler Men’s Basketball team, Hahn helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA championship games in 2010 and 2011. He grew as a player (and a person) under the guidance and poise of Coach Brad Stevens.

A Physical and Health Education major in the College of Education at Butler, he formed close relationships with professors and classmates to reach his high academic goals—he made the Horizon League All-Academic team three times.

“In life, you are going to be on many teams,” Hahn said. “It’s not always going to be about you. It should be about the bigger picture. Whether it’s school or work or family, you have to work together to try and accomplish the goals you have.”

He recalls his professors setting up Skype in the classroom so he could keep up with lectures while on the road for basketball.

He spent the second semester of his senior year student teaching at Shortridge High School and Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, which allowed him to observe the day-to-day lives of the teaching professionals he aspired to follow.

He soaked up the advice of COE professors Mindy Welch and Lisa Farley, who Hahn said “served as a role model and an example of what all of us as educators hope to become someday.”

But more than anything, he said Butler taught him the importance of community and building relationships.

Hahn is now the Men’s Head Basketball Coach and Health and Physical Education Teacher at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana. He credits Butler with giving him the experiences that helped him reach his goals.

“As an educator, I’m a firm believer that people don’t care what you know until they first know that you care about them,” he said. “My professors did that for me.”

Zach Hahn
Alumni OutcomesAthleticsPeople

Zach Hahn ’11

Values gained on the team play out in the classroom.

Pages