This general has the heart of a giant
Photo by Colleen Napoli
With less than three minutes to go in the second quarter, the MacArthur Generals followed Garden City and faced a fourth and one from the Trojans’ 35-yard line. Generals quarterback Jack Butler was picking up the opening goal on a goalie, but while down he suffered a serious ankle injury that would end his season while casting doubt as to whether the youngster man would one day be able to do sport again.
âRight away I was thinking about what was going to happen next and where I’m going,â Butler said. “Once I was in the hospital and lay in a bed after the surgery, that’s when it all started to rush about whether or not I could come back.”
Photo of Jack Butler’s injury courtesy of Varsity Media
And Butler returned to the Generals this season with his courage, hard work and determination, making him a nominee for the USA Football âHeart of a Giantâ award. He is one of many tri-state area high school footballers vying for the award and you can vote by clicking here.
Photo courtesy of USA Football / Heart of a Giant
âIt’s amazing,â Butler said. âIt’s very prestigious. It’s great to be part of this select group of people.
Butler suffered the injury on March 27e because the 2020 fall season on Long Island has been postponed to spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With little time to rehabilitate in order to be ready for the fall 2021 campaign, Butler embarked on a grueling rehab program. If he had suffered the injury in the fall, there would not have been much doubt that he would be able to return this season, but he only had about five months to recover and eventually be allowed to return. .
âI knew I had to do whatever I could, but I couldn’t go too far or I would end up retiring,â Butler said. âI pushed myself to the absolute limit. I could before my body told me I had to take a break. Every day, whether it was sitting in my garage doing all I could or sitting in a wheelchair throwing a ball at the wall, I was doing everything I could to make it possible.
And Butler is living proof that sometimes the impossible is possible.
Four weeks before the start of training camp in August, Butler was cleared to start training, and then two weeks before the first training, the senior quarterback was cleared to fully exercise. His return to the squad has been inspiring and he helped lead MacArthur High School to a 3-0 start before Saturday’s game at 3-0 Mepham High School.
“Just an incredible recovery after major ankle surgery,” said MacArthur head coach Bobby Fehrenbach. âTo come back and be cleared at the start of the camp. He never missed a day of camp, didn’t miss a day of training, didn’t sit out of a spring, or ask to sit out of any conditioning. To anyone, that says a lot about who they are, whether they come back from a serious injury or not.
Photo of MacArthur Head Coach Bobby Fehrenbach Courtesy of Levittown Schools
As the generals gathered for off-season training and then for training camp, there was some uncertainty as to whether Butler would be able to make it all the way back. But the story here is that we’re talking about a young man who just wasn’t going to accept that he couldn’t make it into his senior season. But when New York State High School’s fall athletic season began on August 23,rdButler was on the field with his teammates and coaches for the first day of training.
149 days after suffering a horrific injury, Butler was back.
“It means everything,” said Butler, who was named Homecoming King last Saturday before helping the Generals claim a 28-7 victory over Herricks. “After being injured and not knowing if I would be able to come back to play sports, not being able to walk for three and a half months and not knowing what my future would look like, just being able to practice again was a blessing.”
Jack Butler photo (14) by Colleen Napoli
Getting back on the pitch was one thing for Butler, but it took a little while for him to get back to where he was physically before he got injured. With three games under his belt, Butler is now back to the end.
âHe’s 100%,â Fehrenbach said. âAt the start you can see this was his first time racing and conditioning long term as far as preparation is concerned. He was in rehab and stuff, but he was limping out the door a little bit for a few weeks and you can kind of see he was supportive of that. But he never took a day off, never took a sprint and now you can’t even tell.
Butler’s return is an incredible story already, but the end of the storybook would be to cap his high school career with a Nassau County (Section VIII) title and maybe even a Long Island Championship. After falling to the Garden City Trojans in the Conference 2 title game in each of the past two seasons, it looks like MacArthur and Garden City could once again be on a collision course. Generals have work to do before visiting the Trojans on October 23rd, but right now Butler is thrilled to be playing for a team that’s fortunate enough to do special things.
âIt’s awesome,â Butler said. âThat’s what we expectedâ¦ to be competitive again and to be neck and neck with Garden City. Being part of this team has meant everythingâ¦ just to be able to come back to the field again. I just wanted to be part of the team.
Photo courtesy of USA Football / Heart of a Giant
When it comes to the USA Football âHeart of a Giantâ award, Butler certainly has some competition as there are a number of other great athletes who are nominated for voting. But when it comes to the sentiment around “General Nation” and the community that lives and breathes MacArthur football as well as the other sports played by so many great student-athletes, Butler’s story comes close.
âThere are a lot of kids here and a lot of kids are up for this award,â Fehrenbach said. “But for an injury like (Butler suffered) and the determination, the drive, the willingness to come back and for him to want to be on the pitch and not just to say I’m happy to have my protections and maybe take a photo and kneel down at the end of the gameâ¦ he competes like he’s right there.
Fehrenbach knows a thing or two about getting an award associated with the New York Giants. During the 2019 season, the Generals’ longtime head coach was named by the Giants and Gatorade High School Coach of the Week Lou Rettino for the eighth week after his team ended the 42-game winning streak. back-to-back Garden City with a 27-7 road win. Since spectators were now allowed to attend Giants home games in 2020, Fehrenbach finally received the award on August 14.e in the Giants’ pre-season game against the Jets.
Now Fehrenbach would like to see one of his players, namely Jack Butler, bring home gear from Big Blue and USA Football.
âThat would be pretty cool,â Fehrenbach said. âIt was nice to be recognized, but for a child it would be quite special. To see some of those last year’s âHeart of a Giantâ recipients at the Giants game and just seeing the smiles on their faces, I’m sure any 17 or 18 year old would glow just to be. recognized with this award. “
Jack Butler photo by Colleen Napoli
Butler worked his tail to enter the pitch after this horrific injury, but he didn’t go through the rehabilitation process on his own as he had a formidable support system by his side. Between his family, friends, teammates and coaches as well as the whole family and the MacArthur community, Butler was pushed every day to achieve his goal of putting the red, white and blue uniform of the generals back on his body and helmet. crimson red. on his head.
âIt was amazing,â Butler said. âThere was support from everyone. The coaches and teachers talking to meâ¦ my teammatesâ¦ everyone came. They helped me, sent me gifts. It was just the presence of everyone who came every day. Dozens of people come every day. It meant the most.
Jack Butler’s hard work has paid off as he returns for his senior season with the MacArthur Generals. His goal is to help his team win every match and compete for a championship, but he also has the opportunity to be rewarded for the diligent work he has put in during his long return to the pitch.
He certainly has the âGiant’s Heartâ.