Widely regarded as one of the top pole vault coaches in the country, David Butler begins his 15th year as an assistant coach of both the men's and women's pole vaulters at Rice University.
One of the top technicians in the world today, Butler has mentored a number of coaches and athletes all over the world, including Olympic champion Tim Mack. Butler’s articles and videos are reviewed yearly in Japan and in 2012 he held a pole vault clinic and coached the National vaulters in Bangkok, Thailand.
Considered a “pole vault historian” in the United States, Butler has coached 56 total medal winners since 2000, 30 of which have been gold.
Butler oversaw the development of Rice two-time All-American vaulter Chris Pillow, who graduated as one of the most decorated athletes in school history. Pillow earned First-Team All-American honors at both the 2014 NCAA Outdoor and 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships, finishing seventh at both meets. Pillow also earned a silver medal at the 2015 USATF Indoor Championships and won five combined C-USA titles.
The 2009 indoor and outdoor seasons proved fruitful for Butler and the Rice pole vaulting corps. Junior Jason Colwick had an exceptional year winning the 2009 NCAA Indoor title and the 2009 NCAA Outdoor championship as well. Colwick also posted the nation's number outdoor one mark for the second straight year. Colwick would later earn a bronze medal at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships.
In 2008, Colwick posted the NCAA's number one mark in the pole vault, 5.55m/18-2.5, at the Texas Twilight Meet. Colwick also won the Conference USA outdoor title with a meet record mark of 5.31m/17-5.
Also in 2008, Butler coached Rice graduate student Chris Steddum to a top-24 USA ranking and was an eventual participant in the Olympic trials.
At the 2009 USA National Pole Vault Summit, Butler was awarded the 2009 Sports Culture Award for his work in promoting the history of the sport in the education of USA athletes and coaches. This award was given by the North American Pole Vault Association and the USA National Pole Vault Development Staff.
He was inducted to the Spring Branch Memorial Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the New Haven High (Ind.) School Hall of Fame in 2006. He was the feature speaker at the 2012 Somero (Finland) Pole Vault Carnival, and presented at the 2008 & 2009 Houston Pole Vault Coaches Symposium and the 2011 HISD Coaches' Conference.
Butler's articles have been published in Techniques Magazine, The Pole Vault Standard, and recognized in The Illustrated History of the Pole Vault, Beginner to Bubka, and The Who's Who in the Pole Vault.
He is the creator of the "Steel to Fiberglass" and "140 Drills and Exercises for the Pole Vault" instructional DVDs, and the Facebook page, "The Vault: How Bamboo, Steel & Fiberglass Changed Our Lives."
One of his most accomplished vaulters was former Rice Owl Rachel Greff. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, Greff won both the indoor and outdoor C-USA pole vault titles. A Houston native, Greff earned All-America status in 2008 by placing fifth at the NCAA Outdoor Championship and she also placed second at the NCAA Midwest Regional. She is Rice's record-holder for outdoor with a mark of 4.20m (13-9.25).
In her four years with Butler, Beth Hinshaw went from learning how to pole vault in 2001 to earning indoor All-America honors and winning both WAC indoor and outdoor titles in 2004. Hinshaw also won the 2004 NCAA regional crown en route to the NCAA championships and set the Rice outdoor record of 13-6.25. Ally Daum also flourished under Butler's guidance. The pair shares the Rice indoor record of 13-3.5. Daum finished fourth at the 2004 WAC indoor meet and was fifth at the outdoor meet.
In 2004, he coached Ryan Walsh to the WAC indoor crown and a third-place finish at the outdoor meet. His efforts also guided Ryan Harlan to second-place in the pole vault at WAC outdoors and contributed to his NCAA and WAC decathlon titles.
In 2001, he coached David Jacobs to a second-place finish at the indoor conference championships, and guided Harlan and Walsh to fourth and fifth, respectively, at the WAC outdoor meet. Jacobs continued to flourish under Butler's guidance, finishing second again at the 2003 WAC indoor meet. In three years with Butler, Harlan evolved from a 10-6 beginner to a 16-7 competitor.
Butler coached high school track and field for 23 years. He is recognized nationally for outstanding contribution to the development of the pole vault in the United States, and known as the "father of the girls' high school pole vault in Texas," for his work in bringing the sport to the Lone Star State in 2001. He was named the 1998 USA high school pole vault coach of the year and coached the 1998 high school indoor and outdoor national champion. Butler is an active member of the USA national pole vault developmental staff and currently teaches at Spring Branch Middle School.
He has been a regular feature speaker at the USA National Pole Vault Summit (2001-2010), presentator at the 2010 European Pole Vault Conference in Cologne, Germany, and featured speaker at the 2008 NACACTFCA International Athletics Conference held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Butler was also appointed Development Chair for Emerging Elites for the USA Pole Vault staff in 2009.
He is a former school record holder in the pole vault at Ball State. Butler is a retired art teacher and painter and is married to wife, Sukey (two years).