For George Butts, sitting out a basketball season would be like not conducting Sunday service at the New Heart Christian Center. Both would be unthinkable.
Butts thought he was retiring from coaching for the second time after stepping down at Calvary Christian Academy last season. But he will be be back on the sidelines to coach girls basketball for the 28th consecutive year, this time at Flagler Palm Coast High School. He takes over for Anthony Wagner, who coached the Bulldogs for the past two seasons.
“I thought I might as well do it,” said Butts, whose wife works at FPC. “It’s November to February. I think I can handle that. I just have to put my fishing poles back up.”
Butts, 61, has a career record of 546-187. He won 515 games at Atlantic High School in Port Orange, where the gym now bears his name.
He’s one of the best. He truly does it for the right reasons.” — SCOTT DRABCZYK, FPC athletic director
“He’s one of the best,” FPC athletic director Scott Drabczyk said. “He truly does it for the right reasons. He’s student-centered, which is what we’ve said we wanted, and he runs an entire program. He understands from the offseason to the in-season to all the things that circle around it. And he said he’s still got a bunch of years in him, so we feel really lucky.”
Butts was a campus advisor in the Volusia County School District for 35 years. With his retirement set for January, 2022, he stepped down as Atlantic’s coach in 2021 after 25 seasons with the Sharks. He led Atlantic to three Final Four appearances (1998, 2011 and 2013).
He compiled a 31-9 record at Calvary over the past two seasons, stepping down in March and leaving the program in the hands of his greatest player at Atlantic — Ronni Williams — who was Volusia-Flagler’s first and only McDonald’s Girls All-American in 2013 and went on to become a star player at the University of Florida.
Butts also has been the pastor at New Heart Christian Center for 28 years. Both jobs are a ministry, he says.
FPC hired him in July, but it took four weeks for Flagler Schools, which has been busy hiring new teachers and staffers, to clear him. Butts had his first meeting with his new players on July 20.
“They said they were excited. We have a lot of young players coming up from middle school,” he said. “I explained my philosophy: If you work hard, it will start to show up on the court. The light came back on. I told them I will give everything I have.”
Butts’ basketball philosophy of pressure defense and pushing the ball up the court is similar to that of former FPC coach Javier Bevacqua, who stepped down in 2021 after winning 239 games and four district titles in 13 seasons with the Bulldogs.
“Playing disruptive defense, that’s the name of the game now,” Butts said.
“You hear him talk, he’s not in the twilight of his career,” Drabczyk said. “He's got a bunch of energy. You mix experience with basketball knowledge, with program building, with truly doing it for the right reasons, we couldn’t ask for anything more.”