HEISER: Christian School of York standout Kendis Butler thrives in relative anonymity
- Kendis Butler excels in basketball, soccer and track for the Christian School of York.
- Butler has more than 1,300 points in her basketball career and had 66 goals in her soccer career.
- Butler plans to continue her basketball career at Penn State Harrisburg.
Her name is Kendis Butler.
Unless you’re a die-hard York County high school basketball fan, you likely have never heard of her.
Butler, you see, plays for a tiny school — the Christian School of York — that has just 101 students in grades nine through 12. The Class 1-A Crusaders compete in the relatively anonymous Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference, a league that operates under the rather large shadows cast by the York-Adams League and the other public-school-dominated conferences in District 3.
That’s a shame, because Butler’s accomplishments, on and off the court, are certainly worthy of notice.
The 5-foot, 5-inch senior point guard is the second-leading girls’ basketball scorer (1,303 points) in the history of her school, earning her the nickname “Special K.” Over the past four years, she’s helped that team to a 79-28 overall record. This year, she's averaging nearly 19 points per game.
On the soccer field, she led her school in scoring the last three seasons and finished her career with 66 goals and 18 assists.
She’s a captain and an all-conference performer in basketball and soccer, and also is a standout as a track-and-field athlete in the jumps.
In the classroom, she’s an honor roll student with a nearly perfect 3.96 grade-point average.
Senior season highlight: Still, according to her mother, if you ask Kendis the highlight of her senior basketball season, it wasn’t when she scored her 1,000th career point or when her team won a pivotal game. Instead, it was a pass to Shelly Zhu, a Chinese exchange student on the CSY team.
“During a foul shot, Kendis pulled Shelly aside and coached her into where she wanted her on the next fast-break opportunity,” Karen Butler said. “The next fast break, we all heard her yell ‘Shelly’ and Shelly sprinted down the court, got set on the block, and Kendis threw her a beautiful, perfect pass. ... and Shelly got her first-and-only varsity basket in her two-year CSY career. Kendis still cries when people tell this story.”
Coach loves her attitude: That kind of attitude is typical of Kendis, according to her CSY basketball head coach, Michael Graybill, who refers to Kendis as his team’s “energizer bunny” and a "one-woman press-breaker."
“It has always made her happier to help a teammate score with a great assist or by drawing the defense to herself, rather than just scoring herself,” he said.
Another aspect of Kendis’ attitude that Graybill appreciates greatly is her competitive fire.
“She hates to lose at anything,” he said. “She doesn't want to lose a possession, let alone a quarter or a half or a ball game.”
No regrets on transfer decision: Butler attended Dallastown public schools from kindergarten through eighth grade. She’s also played local AAU ball, so she’s competed with and against some of the top players the York-Adams League has to offer. The family was confident she had the game to compete with the public school standouts.
Nevertheless, Kendis and her family decided that transferring to CSY for high school was the best move for her. Karen said it was a decision based on CSY’s small size in comparison to Dallastown, a Class 6-A school.
“The large size of Dallastown was not the right fit for Kendis,” Karen said. “She is one of those kids where relationships are very important to her, and because of the high number of students all of her teachers (at Dallastown) had — which I can relate to as a public-school teacher — she was not having the type of relationships that she wanted.”
It’s a decision that neither Kendis nor her parents have regretted, despite the fact that it has almost certainly reduced the recognition she’s received in recent years.
“It was a great choice for me personally, academically and athletically to attend a Christian school,” said Kendis, who plans to play in college for Penn State Harrisburg. “As for notoriety, both my brother and sister played sports at Dallastown High School, and I would always see their games in the paper and highlighted on the local news channels. With Christian schools, you don't get that much attention. But I guess that serves as motivation to be successful and make it to districts and states in order to get more notoriety.”
Postseason looms: Kendis and her teammates will soon get that chance. The Crusaders (19-4) have overcome serious illness and injury issues to qualify as the No. 4 seed in the District 3 1-A playoffs, with the top six teams in the 10-team bracket eventually making states. They've also advanced to CCAC semifinals.
So, the opportunity is there for CSY to garner some postseason recognition. If that happens, Kendis said the credit should go to multiple people, but her true source of inspiration is singular.
“I just could not be where I am today in my basketball career without my family, friends, coaches, teammates and most importantly God,” Kendis said. “I dedicated my season this year not to play for my family, my teammates, and to even stop playing for my coaches, but to play wholly to honor and glorify God.”
It sounds like a young woman who has her priorities in order.
In the long run, that will be way more important than missing out on a little notoriety.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.