About this series
Coming up with a short list and then ranking the 10 greatest athletes in the history of each YAIAA high school was a daunting task. For sure, there is no scientific approach. But after two years of interviews, research and roundtable discussions, we are presenting as fair an attempt as possible to create an objective list on a decidedly subjective topic.
OUR CRITERIA: 1. The only accomplishments considered were those achieved while competing in high school varsity athletics. If an athlete earned a college scholarship, that was also factored in. 2. Accomplishments outside the setting of high school varsity sports and accomplishments after high school were not taken into account. 3. Athletes who attended more than one local high school were only evaluated at the school where they had the most varsity success. 4. Female athletes were rated by how they dominated their own sports not how they would fare going head-to-head against male athletes.

Your turn
If you d like to comment or offer a differing opinion on this list, we d love to hear from you. Each Sunday, we ll present your feedback on opinions on page 2 of the York Sunday News sports section - The Rundown. E-mail your thoughts to Sports Editor Chris Otto at cotto@ydr.com or mail them to: Greatest Athletes, c/o Chris Otto, 1891 Loucks Road, York 17408.

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After all of these years, the best pole vaulter in York and Adams county high school history still looks to his coach.

To his father.

Certainly, no one has held a YAIAA championship meet record longer than Kennard-Dale's Bill Butler, whose vault of 14 feet, 6 inches has stood, untouched, since 1979.

And it was his father, George, who taught him everything he knows.

George Butler attended Delta High (a predecessor to Kennard-Dale) in the 1940s before becoming a standout pole vaulter and legendary coach at the University of Maryland.

He helped push the popularity of fiberglass poles in the early 1960s and then coached the first person in the world to vault 16 feet as well as the first collegian to do it.

He also became the personal coach to his sons, John and Bill, in high school. He went on to coach Bill at the University of Maryland.

"It was hard for my dad to coach me because I was tough, so emotional and competitive," Bill Butler said. "There are some things he told me 20, 30 years ago that I remember now that really ground me. I didn't realize how much I learned from him. Those quiet lessons...

"He's my hero. He's still the man I respect the most."

Though Bill also was a standout football receiver and a 6-foot-4 point guard who could score as well as pass, his glory truly came in track and field.

As a high school senior, he won district titles in the intermediate and high hurdles and a state title in the intermediate. He also won a Class AA state title in the pole vault -- setting state records as both a junior and senior.

His performance as a senior led the Rams to a team state track title -- the only team state title in school history.

He earned a track and field scholarship to the University of Georgia but transferred to Maryland. There, he won an Atlantic Coast Conference title in the pole vault and finished second in the decathlon as a senior. He was an All-American. He still holds the school's indoor vault record.

His father coached him through it all, providing the calm, cutting criticism necessary when his fiery son threw a pole or screamed during a tough day jumping.

The fit was perfect. That's why the son describes his best moment in college coming during the IC4A Championships, a meet featuring dozens of track teams from across the East.

After transferring to Maryland, he had struggled through injuries and sitting out his first year as a redshirt.

"I didn't think I was ever going to turn it around. After all that success in high school and then a three-year period with a lot of frustration, I finally won a big meet and he was there," Bill Butler said.

"I ran out of the pit and found him and gave him a big hug and probably embarrassed him. He wasn't a real emotional guy, but I guess that's the one we really shared, a winning moment. If he had not been there and I won it wouldn't have meant as much.

"It wasn't because I won, it was because we won."

After college he landed a demanding accounting job and has lived in New York for the past 20 years. Now he is working corporate as a division controller for Corning Inc. -- a job that takes him to Europe, South Africa and Japan.

The rest of his times goes to his wife and four kids, ages 8 through 15. And helping his brother coach a pole vaulting camp in New Jersey.

No one, though, might have been a better teacher then their father, who died from cancer in 2003.

That's who Bill Butler looks to when thinking about those great vaults at the little farm school nearly 30 years ago.

"I had one of the best coaches in the world," he said. "It's as much a tribute to my dad as anything."
fbodani@ydr.com; 771-2104