Doug Butler is in his first year as a personal fitness trainer at Team 3 Sports and is in his second year as an assistant varsity basketball coach at Heritage High School. Citizen sports editor Colin Hubbard caught up with the 2010 Heritage graduate to see what is keeping him busy these days.
CH: Growing up, was it always basketball that you were interested in? Or did you play other sports, too?
DB: Always basketball. I remember playing against Malcolm Brogdon. Back in high school, I remember Jeremy Lamb came out of nowhere. I actually have an embarrassing picture someone sent me of Kevin Ware dunking on me in high school. I competed against a lot of good players. Bernard Thompson, Shaq Johnson. I actually had my best game against Shaq.
CH: Did you go to the military right after high school and what made you interested in that?
DB: I went to the military for six years. To be honest, I just wanted to do something different. Everything didn’t work out with basketball like I had planned. I had only Division III offers. With D-III, it gets into a money situation, so I just really wanted to go into the military to get that discipline.
CH: What branch did you end up choosing and what years were you in the military?
DB: I chose the Army and I was in there from 2011-17.
CH: Were you prepared for that journey into the military?
DB: I was prepared for it. Later on in my Army years, I used to work with all of the women soldiers that had just had babies. I used to get them back into shape and that’s what kind of got me into fitness. I had a short stint trying out for the Army boxing team.
CH: Did you go overseas anywhere or did you stay in the United States?
DB: I always stayed here. I was stationed in Savannah, Georgia first and then I moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina at Fort Bragg. I made sergeant and that was my last rank. I decided that I wanted to get out.
CH: What were some of your fondest memories about being in the military?
DB: Jumping out of airplanes. And of course the fitness aspects of it.
CH: What was the first thing that you did when you got out of the military?
DB: The first thing that I did was get my personal training certification from the ISSA. I did that first and then went right into coaching after that.
CH: How did you get started in coaching? Did you make some phone calls to some old coaching friends?
DB: I used to coach rec leagues in the military and stuff like that. I made a coach to Vernon Denmark and asked him if I could come on his staff. My nephew, Byron Abrams was playing for Heritage and my mom is really good friends with Jordan Thomas’s parents. My brother, Donovan Butler played at Albany Tech for a minute. So I kind of watched those guys grow up.”
CH: Did coach Denmark bring you on his staff right away?
DB: Right away. I’m a player development type of guy. I’ve gotten RJ (Noord) above the rim. I’ve gotten Byron Abrams to be one of the best shooters in the country. I always had a helping hand in getting guys to schools.
CH: With last year being your first year coaching at Heritage, how fun was that picking up with those guys and making a run all the way to the Final Four?
DB: Man, it was tough at first. I remember the game against Newton and was thinking to myself, do I even want to coach here? We had on suits and were getting blown out. But we learned a lot about those kids. The way that hit that adversity and made a run was amazing to be apart of. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
CH: When coach Denmark left Heritage this past year and coach Brian Anderson was hired, how did you get to stay on staff? Did you reach out to him or did he reach out to you?
DB: It was very mutual. I told him about how I wanted to stay in the area and how I was connected to these kids out here. He’s a really good guy and he asked me to stay. I’m learning a lot from him. He’s a likable guy. You just want to be apart of something that he has going on.
CH: How did you go about getting hooked up as a trainer at Team 3 Sports?
DB: Last year I was actually a trainer at LA Fitness. Ivory Dennard actually recruited me to come here. He heard about me as far as coaching and basketball training, so he asked me if I would want to be a fitness trainer and head basketball trainer at Team 3. I’ve been here for about 10 months.
CH: How fun has it been being a trainer at Team 3 Sports?
DB: I love it. I just love helping people get to a certain goal. I love helping get kids into schools and people to feel better about themselves
CH: How much have you learned about personal fitness since you started?
DB: I learned a lot from those classes and I’ve learned a lot from Coach Ivory here at Team 3. He’s taught me a lot about balancing sports and balancing fitness.
CH: What is kind of a day in the life of Doug Butler?
DB: I have my first set of clients at 5 a.m., so I’m waking up at 4:30 a.m. every day. I’m training until 9 a.m. and maybe getting a few hours of sleep until 1 p.m. because that’s when we open back up. I have groups at 5 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. before I have to leave for Heritage basketball practice. I come back here at 6-7 p.m. and train until 9. This is how I make my living. I love it.
CH: Was it hard to get into that schedule?
DB: It was hard. I hate waking up early, especially when it’s cold. All of my clients pay me monthly, so I have to be here. I live right up the street, so sometimes I might run here. I can’t just come here and go through the motions. I have to be motivated for my clients because they’re serious about making weight loss transformations.
CH: As far as your coaching goes, do you want to keep that your secondary thing in the future?
DB: I would coach for free. I have a son that is three and I’m going to coach him. He’s going to be a baller. I’m always going to coach, but I want to keep those things separately. I’ve actually had schools call me about strength and conditioning and implementing my program at their school.
CH: What would you say your long term plan is?
DB: I want to open up my own gym to help kids around the area. I want to have a basketball gym and a fitness center around Conyers.