ARCOLA (WCIA) — Zach Butler didn’t spend his summer like most of his teammates. The 17-year old was working out everyday before 5 a.m. during his 10 week stay at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The Arcola senior football player completed his first stint of basic training with the Illinois Army National Guard.
“It wasn’t great but it definitely wasn’t something I couldn’t do,” Butler said. “It definitely kept me in shape, so I should be ready for the season, maybe more than my teammates.
“I wanted to serve my country, be able to say that I did that and took that time out of my life to do it,” he added. “And I definitely think that kind of helped me as far as growing as a leader, and they had someone else to look up to.”
But for Zach, joining the military means more than just that. He’s following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who spent nearly a decade in the Airforce.
“I definitely looked up to him, thought it was really cool that he did the whole military thing,” Butler added. “And I was definitely happy to make him proud.”
Zach will head to Virginia to complete his basic training after graduating high school, but has big goals for his senior year. The three-year varsity starter has played a big role for the Riders on both sides of the ball.
“He’s been a leader since day one,” Arcola head coach Nick Lindsey said. “I think the kids really missed him this summer, and just having him back and just boosted our morale, and it’s great to have our best leader back.”
And he’ll be back on the field with the Riders Friday night for the Cola Wars rivalry game against Tuscola. It will be the 107th meeting between the two schools separated by less than 10 miles.