The opportunities to get a great education and play Division I football were what brought Trae Heeter ’14 to Butler, and he made the most of both.

As an Elementary Education major, he spent four years in local classrooms—in field experiences and as a student-teacher—preparing to teach fifth grade, which he’s now doing at the Indianapolis Public Schools/Butler Lab School.

As a running back for the Bulldogs, he led the Pioneer Football League in rushing his junior and senior years, rolling up 2,478 yards and scoring 27 touchdowns.

“Education is huge in my family,” Heeter said. “I saw that Butler would be a place where I could really blossom as a football player and find a career and passion in the classroom.”

Heeter grew up in Indianapolis. Several state universities offered him scholarships or preferred walk-on status, but football Coach Jeff Voris convinced him to visit Butler. “As soon as you walk on campus, you see how special a place it is,” Heeter said.

Voris told him, “You might not get the athletic scholarship, but there’s ways to make sure you have the resources you need, as well as graduate with a great degree and be ready to start a career.”

Heeter said he was prepared, beginning the day he started in the College of Education. Like all Butler Education majors, in his first-year courses, he began going to area schools to observe veteran teachers and learn to work with students. By senior year, he was student-teaching full-time at the Lab School.

After graduating in December 2014, Heeter took a job as a fifth-grade teacher in the Washington Township school district in Indianapolis. When Lab School Principal Ron Smith ’88 MS ’96 called and said he had a similar position open beginning in August 2015, Heeter jumped at the chance to return.

In addition to teaching, Heeter’s now back at Butler, working on his master’s degree in the EPPSP (Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals) program. His goal is to become either a principal or an athletic director.

In either case, he said he will share the Butler Way principles with his students.

“Know your role, do the right thing when nobody’s looking, and put in the time and effort,” he said. “The results really do show.”