Story and photo by Mark Carpenter –
If you have attended a North Adams basketball game in the past 22 years, you may have noticed a familiar face at the scorer’s table. For 22 years, Ernie Butts has been the man with the scorebook in hand, filling the book with 2’s and 3’s and lots of little circles, some colored in, some not.
On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Butts was recognized for all his years of dedication as he was awarded the Southeast District Athletic Board’s “Friend of Youth” Award in a ceremony held before the North Adams-West Union boys sectional basketball game at Waverly High School.
The Southeast District Athletic Board established the “Friend of Youth” Award to recognize men and women who have provided long and dedicated service as timers, announcers, scorekeepers, team physicians, or chain crew volunteers. The award honors those who have given countless hours ands years in one of those capacities.
In their official announcement read to the crowd at Waverly, the District said, “In addition to his role as a scorer, Ernie has served the Ohio High School Athletic Association as a baseball umpire for 42 years and a volleyball official for 20 years. Ernie’s dedication to high school athletics and North Adams High School is replicated thousands of times every year across Ohio. It is what makes high school athletics tick.”
“I really appreciate the award,” said Butts. “I know Tony (Williams) talked me up a lot but I really do appreciate everyone who has been behind me all these years.”
Butts only recalls missing some some basketball games in 2008 when he had robotic surgery on his heart. One does not go through so many years in high school sports without making a lot of memories and Butts recalled some of his more exciting times.
“I have fond memories of our boys playing in the regionals up in Athens when Kraig Unger played,” said Butts. “As a baseball umpire, the one memory that sticks out is a double no-hitter I umpired in a district semi-final between Fairfield and Reedsville Eastern.”
“We are extremely fortunate to have someone as dedicated to his position as Ernie,” said NAHS Athletic Director Tony Williams, who presented the award to Butts along with Southeast District Athletic Board member Bo Arnett. “There are many times when Ernie will be traveling to games five or six nights a week. He is a true professional at his craft and a great asset to North Adams. Ernie also serves many throughout the area with his work as a baseball umpire and has helped many of our area umpires get their start.”
“Everyone at North Adams appreciates all that Ernie does for us and he is very deserving of this honor.”