Butler High School, near Charlotte, names football field for former head coach

Brian Hales said he still might get behind the wheel of the tractor and mow the football field at Butler High, because it gives him time to think.

If so, he’ll be mowing a field named for him.

Butler High officials surprised their former head football coach Saturday night by announcing that the football playing surface had been named Coach Brian Hales Field.

“You can’t imagine what an honor this is for me,” Hales said. “I couldn’t have dreamed that something like this would happen to me.”

Hales, 50, announced in March that he was resigning after 20 years as a coach at Butler. He was head coach the past 14 years and said he wanted more time to see “what comes next.”

He said he was told Saturday’s event was a celebration of his years as coach. During the event, he learned about the field being named for him.

Butler head coach Brian Hales speaks during Southwestern 4A media day at Providence High School on Thursday, July 27, 2023 in Charlotte, NC.
Butler head coach Brian Hales speaks during Southwestern 4A media day at Providence High School on Thursday, July 27, 2023 in Charlotte, NC.

Hales said all of this would have seemed impossible to him a few decades ago.

Born and reared in Scranton, Pa., he played college football at Kent State in the early 1990s. After returning to Scranton following graduation, he decided to move to Charlotte, on the advice of Kent State teammate Ken Walter, who was then punting for the Carolina Panthers.

Hales tried his hand at car sales and construction equipment sales.

“I was terrible at sales,” he said.

So he moved back to Scranton, but his family pressured him to move back South again a few years later.

“It snowed on Mothers Day 2002 in Scranton,” Hales said. “That was it.”

He and the family came to Charlotte, and Hales got a job as an in-school suspension officer at Butler while he helped coach football at Providence Day.

Two years later, in 2004, Hales got his teaching certificate and a coaching assistant’s job under Mike Newsome at Butler. The Bulldogs became a state power, winning N.C. 4A titles in 2009 and 2010. When Newsome left for A.L. Brown High, Hales took over.

Between the 2011 and 2023 seasons, he compiled a 131-34 record and coached a 4A state title team in 2012. Hales also sent numerous players into the college ranks.

Butler Headcoach Brian Hales take a win and a pie in the face on the field after beating Charlotte Catholic
Butler Headcoach Brian Hales take a win and a pie in the face on the field after beating Charlotte Catholic

“I knew I had to make a speech,” he said of Saturday night’s event, which took place on the football field. “When I started, I kept realizing there was more to talk about. So many things happened in my life because of football. So many people had an influence on me.”

Former Chambers coach Glenwood Ferebee has taken over the Butler program, but Hales, who will remain a teacher at the school, said he’ll continue to be a big supporter.

“I told Chris (Satterfield, the athletics director), ‘Does this mean I have to keep mowing the field?’ ” Hales said. “But I’ll be close by.”

Another new Butler coach: Butler High also has announced that Rick Rhoda will take over the school’s cross-country program. Rhoda was a three-time conference coach of the year at Gray’s Creek High near Fayetteville and also coached at West Bladen and Pine Forest high schools in the Sandhills.

All-state baseball team

More than a dozen area players have been named to the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association’s all-state team.

Selected in Class 4A: Cam Bagwell (South Mecklenburg); Jack Hedrick (Charlotte Catholic); Tyler Howe (Hopewell); Parker Lakey (Hickory Ridge); Jaxon Matthews (Hough); Brady Thompson (Providence); Andrew Waddell (Hopewell); Braylon Whitaker (Cox Mill).

Selected in 3A: Evan Matile (East Lincoln).

Selected in 2A: Evan Hartsoe (West Lincoln).

Area 1A all-state picks: Eli Newsome (Cherryville); Christian Pawl (Union Academy); Braden Reynolds (Cherryville); Jeremiah Shine (Union Academy); Patrick Walsh (Christ the King).

All-state girls’ soccer team

Jessica Matson of 4A state champion Marvin Ridge, Elizabeth Navola of 1A champ Christ the King, and Blane McElroy, Devin McElroy, Jaida McGrew and KK Hart of N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 4A champion Providence Day are among area players picked on the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association’s all-state team.

Selected in 4A: forwards Claire Downing (Mooresville), Sarah Funderburk (Hough), Savanna Leckner (Charlotte Catholic) and Kylee Thompson (Hough); midfielders Georgia-Allen Aaron (Providence), Morgan Child (Charlotte Catholic), Julia Grier (South Mecklenburg) and Ellie Riechman (Ardrey Kell); defenders Mattson and Meredith Palmer (Cuthbertson); and goalkeepers Reese DeJong (Cox Mill) and Riley Pickels (Hough).

The 3A area all-staters: forwards Gatsby Goode (Northwest Cabarrus), Abbe Hege (East Lincoln) and Kate Robinson (Lake Norman Charter); midfielder Megan Story (Northwest Cabarrus); and defenders Sadie Badgett (East Lincoln), Grace Maynard (South Point) and Avery Reichert (Lake Norman Charter).

Picked in 2A: forwards Tyler Baughan (Community School of Davidson) and Reagan Luckadoo (East Gaston); midfielders Avery Garrett and Maddyson Kerley (Pine Lake Prep) and Eleanor Nguyen (Community School of Davidson); and defender Elizabeth Perri (Pine Lake Prep).

Picked in 1A: midfielder Heidi Estrada-Aguilar (Union Academy); defender Rylan Breath (Mountain Island Charter); and Navola.

And the private school all-state picks: forwards Devin McElroy and Jaida McGrew (Providence Day) and Dempsey McMahon (Charlotte Latin); and midfielders Lucy Dempsey (Charlotte Latin), KK Hart and Blane McElroy (Providence Day) and B Hylton (Covenant Day).w