Butler grateful to Stevens; looking ahead
Brad Stevens' departure leaves a gaping hole in Butler University's basketball program. As the 36-year-old Stevens was introduced as the Boston Celtics' new head coach Friday, the mood on the Butler campus was one of gratitude to the coach who did so much for the Bulldogs.
The Celtics' announcement was shown in the student union on Friday. There aren't many students on campus right now due to the summer break, but the Winters were there with their young family. They are very familiar with Butler. The two Butler grads are now raising their own family the Butler way. Silas is three and a half and younger brother Emmett is four months old.
They enjoyed the Bulldogs' run under Brad Stevens but they also understand why he moved on.
Jessica, who majored in communication difficulties, had no problem voicing her opinion.
"How do you turn down an opportunity like that? It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. He worked at a pharmaceutical company. He wanted to be a basketball coach and look at him seven years later. He is coaching in the NBA. Incredible!" she said.
Husband Nic felt likewise: "If anyone deserves that it's Brad. He was the heart and soul of Butler."
While the Winters had the run of the campus, Brad Stevens was saying his hello to the Boston media on television.
"I love the opportunity and was thrilled but it was still hard to leave," Stevens told reporters.
Even as he was accepting the job of a storied franchise, Brad Stevens couldn't help but reminisce about what he was leaving behind and what made it all possible. At the very same time, another hoop dream was taking shape on the hardwoods of Hinkle.
While it may be too early to talk about legacy, wins will certainly play a part when it comes to Brad Stevens. But he did something else that no one has ever done at Butler. He took it from the Horizon League to the A10 to the Big East and he did it in six seasons.
Mike Perugini, a senior chemistry major, took time from studying for his summer class to reflect a little.
"It was a really exciting to be on campus. The atmosphere. But it will be tough next season going into the Big East but I look forward to seeing how we do with a new coach. See if he can perpetuate the Butler way," he said.
That means humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness - words etched in stone outside of Hinkle Fieldhouse. It's what Tony Hinkle passed down to Brad Stevens.
Nic and Jessica Winters says Stevens' success "absolutely" shows what's possible at Butler.
Nic elaborated, "You gotta chase your dream. And if there is anywhere to learn that, it's here."