Why do bad apples seem to get all the attention in the sports world? Problem children have dominated the media for far too long, and as a society, we are kind of sick for giving them so much attention. Celebrity reality shows always seem to have a Jose Canseco, Dennis Rodman, or Bill Romanowski in the mix, and we continue to watch. Do kids see these middle-aged spoiled brat superstars as role models? I don’t have an answer for that, but I do have hope.
I’ve interviewed two high school seniors this fall who have completely impressed me. These two young men couldn’t be any different in appearance, but have much in common as young men. Trevonte Boles and Andrew Butz are two of the finest young men you will find in Vero Beach. Boles, at 6-0 300 pounds, is the human wrecking ball (Offensive Guard) who has led the Fighting Indians to a 4-0 start. Butz, at 6-4 200 pounds, is the defending state tennis champion who travels about the country to play in the biggest tournaments against the best opponents.
No matter how bad he’s hurting after a game, Boles makes it a point to talk to me after every game before I interview the coaching staff. Even though we are the same height, his large paw engulfs mine when we shake hands. He always has a smile on his face, and he always shirks individual praise in favor of talking up his teammates and coaches. This is a kid who received the offensive line MVP at almost every one of the seven camps he attended last year. This is also a kid who sees the big picture, and wants more than just football out of life.
When I met Butz yesterday, he was so reserved that I wondered if I had the right kid. I’d never met him before, and had to look around St. Edward’s School a little before I found him (with the help of his teammate Connor Pickering). I approached him and introduced myself, and he had sported a sheepish grin. He’s the 26th ranked player in tennis in the 18 and under age group, and he just verbally committed to play tennis at Florida on a full-ride scholarship. Where was the swagger? All I saw was a shy 17-year-old in a Gator polo that looked like he had no clue why I’d want to talk to him. The beauty of it was, is that was exactly who he was! He was uncomfortable talking about individual success, and was passionate only when talking about the team aspect of his burgeoning tennis career. Like Boles, he sees the big picture. Butz is a teenager first, and tennis star second. This young man would be going to UF even if he didn’t play sports.
Maybe I should start a campaign to get Urban Meyer’s attention? Boles would be a fine addition to the Gators offensive line, and he’d be a classmate of Butz. How would that be for a reality show? Two nice young men from Vero Beach rooming together, but playing different sports! Not exciting enough? Come on now, admit it: a tennis and football together in a small dorm room for nine months is funny!
You may not agree, but it’s hard not to agree that these are two of the best young men around. I wish them both the best, even if the reality show idea doesn’t work out.