Butterfield bouncing back

Del Oro senior recovering after disturbing attack during AAU game
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — Jerilyn Butterfield always feared her son’s first concussion would come on a gridiron. She was never as concerned about Spencer, Del Oro High’s two-sport star and the oldest of five children, when hoops season rolled around. “As a mom I worried the whole time in football,” she said. “Of course it would be basketball.” She definitely never dreamed he’d suffer it from an attack by an opponent. Butterfield was slammed into the wall during an Amateur Athletic Union tournament game April 17 between the YBA Dawgs and the Marin Storm at Rocklin High. He was knocked unconscious and taken by ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center on a spine board. With the emergency room at full capacity, Butterfield waited on a stretcher in the hallway with a black eye, a cut on his face and a swollen neck. “He looked like he’d been beat up pretty good,” said his father, Darren Butterfield, who had spent the afternoon with his dad visiting from Utah. “His coach said he drove him through the wall headfirst but the wall didn’t give. “Spencer said, ‘That’s not the big game, come see the next week,’” his dad said. “Then I get a phone call that says he’s been injured and it’s very serious. I met him at the hospital and he looked terrible. They thought he may have a broken clavicle, even a broken neck. It was very traumatic.” An MRI and CT scan revealed no further trauma. When the family got home from the hospital around midnight, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Butterfield collapsed in the carport. Headaches and dizziness intensified for the next several days. “I wasn’t getting out of bed and when I did I was really dizzy,” he said. “I don’t really remember it happening. I remember running down the court and then I just kind of remember hitting the wall. I don’t really remember anything until I kind of woke up in the ambulance a little bit.” The 6-foot-8 Marin player was benched for the last nine minutes of the first half after he aggressively fouled Butterfield early in the game with an elbow below the eye. In the second half, Butterfield blocked the player’s shot three straight times. On the next trip down the floor, Butterfield chased down a loose ball and flipped it behind him to a teammate. As Butterfield’s momentum carried him out of bounds, the Marin player attacked. “Basically I’m going to hit the wall pretty hard already but he kind of put his forearm in the back of my head and just followed me into the wall,” said Butterfield, whose AAU teammates had previously nicknamed him “Gladiator.” Junior guard Aaron Hendricks had passed the ball to Butterfield earlier in the play. “The way he came down and hit the floor, you knew something was wrong,” Hendricks said. “It was like a football tackle.” YBA coach Millard “Doc” Haynes will never forget the sound of the impact. “I’ve been doing this for well over 20 years and that was the most outlandish thing I’ve ever seen,” Haynes said. “It was horrible. He literally rode Butterfield into the wall. Spencer’s the toughest kid we have on the team. It was totally and utterly senseless and pointless.” Marin coach Ramon Huff was the first person at Butterfield’s side. “The thing that really touched me the most is Coach Ramon was the first one to help Spencer,” Darren Butterfield said. “I was really impressed with that. He played college ball and pro. He said, ‘In all my years, I have never seen a kid that injured. I practically cried for three days.’ He said ‘I’ve been thinking about your son forever. If that was my son I don’t know what I’d do. I’ll be happy to testify in court if you need.’ It was undeserved. It was intentional. He’s disappointed.” Butterfield’s parents have been in phone contact with Huff, who, according to Darren Butterfield, hasn’t seen the attacking player since he “just ran out of the gym and left.” Said Huff: “We had a great conversation. I feel there’s no place for this in basketball. My only interest in this was comforting Spencer during the incident, as I would for any kid on my team or any other team.” The coach declined to comment further pending possible legal action. “My ultimate wish would be to have that player come and personally, face-to-face talk to Spencer and apologize sincerely for what he’s done,” Darren Butterfield said. “That’d be almost good enough, to see the pain Spencer went through that night. He has no idea the hell and torture he put Spencer through. I want the kid to sincerely apologize and pay the medical bills, and I want the kid to be rehabbed. If nothing happens, I don’t know if he’s ever going to learn. Everyone’s been telling us he has family problems and a history of abuse. I do want to approach the family of this boy and at least try to help him.” Fire personnel on scene requested that Rocklin Police respond for a report. According to the report, which does not include the names of either athlete, the officer was “unable to determine if the hit was truly intentional or just aggressive play.” Nobody filmed the game, since it was expected to be a blowout. Haynes refutes any notion that the Marin player’s hit could have been unintentional. “It was too malicious,” Haynes said. “As soon as it happened, he sprinted out of the gym. He knew, and it’s a good thing he left.” Butterfield went to school to take a test four days after his release from the hospital, but passed out from dizziness as soon as he got home. He woke up sick the next morning and returned to the emergency room. “My mom’s like ‘you’re not moving for the rest of the week,’” he said. Butterfield, who boasts a 3.9 cumulative GPA, was back at school fulltime last week despite the pounding headaches he still has “pretty much all day.” He completed his senior project — rebuilding eight trophy cases in the Paul Yokote Gymnasium — last Monday, finished a big writing assessment for his English class Wednesday and is now studying for this week’s Advanced Placement Calculus exam. “That’s why I was trying to come back to school so soon,” he said. “I was just overwhelmed. I had a lot of stuff going on. It’s frustrating not being able to play, but I feel pretty accomplished now, now that everything at school is kind of winding down a little bit.” Butterfield, who isn’t expected to be back on the hardwood until Memorial Day Weekend, wrapped up a stellar basketball career at Del Oro this winter. Brought up from the JV team late in his sophomore season, he carried the Golden Eagles to their first coveted Arco Arena appearance since 1998 as a junior. He averaged 17.3 points in 44 varsity games. Butterfield also starred on the football field, catching 96 passes for 1,616 yards and 14 touchdowns in two varsity seasons, but he decided to pursue basketball in college. He was right back to meeting with prospective schools last week. Two days before the attack, he and teammate Remi Barry worked out for UCLA. “He had a good conversation with them,” Darren Butterfield said. “They said if you go to a JC, you’ll get to play a ton and develop your skills even more, then you come in as junior and you start. It’s like you never stopped playing.” Butterfield, who is Mormon, has gotten looks from some top programs in Utah, including BYU, where both his parents attended. His decision will be based largely on where he’ll have the best opportunity to make an impact. “He doesn’t want to be a practice player,” Darren Butterfield said. “He wants to play.”