Sam Wore Red,
But His Heart Was True Blue
Sam Butterfield believed that speed won games.
Hutchinson Community College’s third men’s basketball coach was more than right; his quick teams helped fill the Sports Arena and ultimately led to his being named the second inductee into the Hutchinson Quarterback Club Hall of Fame in 1999.
From 1957 to 1966 under Butterfield, Hutch won the conference championship seven times and finished second twice. Butterfield’s recipe for success was simple: recruit the fastest kids in Kansas.
At the time, conference rules prohibited out-of-state players. Butterfield could not get tall players from around the country. His teams played a full-speed-ahead offense and kamikaze defense that caught on with the fans right away.
The Sports Arena was always packed. He took the Blue Dragons to the NJCAA Tournament four times, finishing third twice.
Butterfield was the first coach at Hutchinson to win 30 games in a season. All told, he won 178 games, averaging 20 wins a year and a phenomenal winning percentage of 75 percent. He never had a losing season at Hutch.
But Butterfield believed that winning wasn’t everything. He encouraged players to play hard and get an education, too. Former players include doctors, coaches, business executives, even a college president.
Butterfield took good care of his players. In the days before Hutchinson Community College built dorms and the school cafeteria, Sam got his players jobs and found them housing in good homes.
Butterfield was a two-time state champion in the 440-yard dash at Overbrook High School and lettered in his first two years at Emporia State University. But World War II cut short his track career.
Because he was too old to run again when he returned to college, Butterfield strongly considered becoming a trainer. He became a coach by accident.
Butterfield was along for the ride when a classmate interviewed for a football coaching position at Wamego High School. The friend got the job and school officials followed him back to his car to offer the basketball coaching job to Butterfield. He didn’t even have to have to interview.
Butterfield replaced the legendary Charles Sesher as athletic director. Butterfield’s first decision was to hire someone to succeed him as coach. He picked Gene Keady, who later became the head coach at Purdue University. Keady continued to raise Blue Dragon Basketball toward being a national power in one of the toughest conferences in the country. Keady credited much of his success to the lessons he learned at Butterfield’s side.
In retirement, Butterfield became one of Hutch basketball’s most loyal fans. For years, he attended practically every game.
He is responsible for fans wearing red although the mascot is a Blue Dragon. Butterfield so liked a red blazer given to him by a sportscaster that he started wearing it to the games. Soon the Sports Arena became a sea of red. The tradition keeps going strong.
On Nov. 6, 2010, the court at the Sports Arena was named in Sam Butterfield’s honor.
Butterfield died in the spring of 2015