Neil Butler, #13, is a current Captain of the Cornell Buds. Using his background from wrestling and rowing, Butler knows how to push his body through the limits during hard fought games. His grit, tenacity, and hard work are qualities that allow him to lead by example. In any match-up he’s tough to overcome as he will seek to out work his opponent.
What was your introduction to Ultimate?
When I frist began playing Ultimate, it was just fooling around with a bunch of friends after school or on weekends. After learning about the Greater Rochester Area Disc Association (GRADA), a few of my friends began playing summer league, which was my real first taste of organized Ultimate. We eventually started a team for our high school, which I believe is still together today. I also got a lot of extra experience playing with the local youth travel team, BlueREY, as well as practicing with the now extinct upstate club team, Zebra Muscles. Practicing with Zebra Muscles was really great for me because it let me see what competitive ultimate was really like. It also gave me the opportunity to play with a bunch of Cornell guys my senior year in high school.
What is your general sports background?
I spent most of High School as a three season athlete. I rowed light-weight crew for four years, the highlight of which
came my Sophomore year when our boat won the New York State Championships and got to go to the National Regatta. I also spent my Freshmen and Sophomore year wrestling varsity at 112 and 119 pounds respectively. Needless to say, I have put on some weight since then. Although neither of these experiences directly contributed to my ultimate success, I think rowing and wrestling are two of the most physically and mentally demanding sports out there. I have no problem now telling my body to shut-up during long points or work outs.
What was your career like with the Buds so far?
Ultimate played a very big factor in choosing schools for me. I made sure every school I considered had at least a regionally competitive team. My final decision was actually between Cornell and Virginia. One of the reasons I picked Cornell had to do with the successful season they were having in the Spring of 2007. It is always interesting for me to play against UVa because I cannot help but imagine what it would be like if I were on Night Train instead of the Buds.
After making the team my freshmen year, I really found my niche as a defensive player. For whatever reason, I really took to the physical style of defense the Buds play, and I have always earned my playing time that way. I have never really been much of a flashy player, but I always aim to out-grit my match-up when I step onto the field. I try to spend a decent amount of time in the gym, however, injuries the past two years during the season have really cut down on my ability to do this. I captained last year with Art Shull and Damien Lazar; I learned a lot about what makes a team successful and what it takes to be a good leader from them. It is hard for me to imagine where I would be as a captain without learning the ropes from them first.
What do you do outside of Ultimate?
I am an Engineering Physics major here at Cornell. It is one of the most demanding programs, so needless to say I study quite a bit. Between my studies and school, I do not have too much time for much else. I have held down a couple of campus jobs just to keep the cash flow stimulated, but nothing too thrilling. A bunch of the guys on the team started playing Diablo II again recently, so I guess my biggest stress reliever is grinding Hell Mephisto with Stompy and Match.
What are your plans after college?
I plan on playing club Ultimate for a few years after I graduate, in whichever city I end up. My plans are still up in the air; there is a possibility that I might be doing some graduate school next year, so college Ultimate may not be over for me. Whatever I end up doing in life, I will always carry the memory of the playing for the Buds over the past four years with me dearly.