Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

By Bethany Bradsher

Butts boosts ECU's sights in track & field

Freshman sets new standards during All-American season

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

Curt Kraft knows that he is choosing an obvious metaphor for Tynita Butts’ stunning success as an East Carolina freshman track and field athlete, but since her best event is the high jump the image just seems to fit.

“She has set the bar so high that she has no choice but to equal or surpass what she did this year,” said Kraft, the Pirates’ head track and field coach. “I’m not sure she could have accomplished any more than she did as a freshman."

In detailing Butts’ dominating romp through two seasons of collegiate field events, the most dramatic effect comes by starting at the end, on June 9. That was the day she became ECU’s first female All-American in her sport in 11 years by tying for seventh place in the high jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, OR.

She didn’t clear her personal-best height that day, finishing at 1.76 meters in an event where she reached 1.83 meters earlier this winter, but it was a rainy day, and rain always gives her confidence, she said. She looked around her, saw her competitors get discouraged by the weather, and had a feeling that she was going to be just fine.

“I knew deep down in my gut that anything could happen,” she said. “I think a lot of people who don’t know about East Carolina, they didn’t expect it from us.”

So All-American should top the list, but there are plenty of other honors to fill it out, like Conference USA Freshman of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, C-USA champion in the high jump, ECU record holder in the indoor high jump and the outdoor high and long jumps, and the first female Pirate to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in nearly a decade.

Butts finished 10th in the high jump at the NCAA indoor meet, narrowly missing another All-America designation.

All of those good things happened without extensive coach intervention, jumping coach Joe Blaney said, because Butts came in with strong technique and experience in big meets from her prep career at T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, VA.

Blaney made some adjustments to her approach in the fall, but since her success in indoor competition he has mostly been hands-off, available to help when she gets stuck and to offer ideas of how she might be able to improve.

“We just kind of felt like she was going to do well,” Blaney said. “It’s not my career. It’s not my success. It’s her success. The bottom line is, this has got to be fun, even at the elite level.”

One of the reasons Butts chose to come to ECU was the quick rapport she achieved with coaches like Blaney and Kraft. She realized that they were committed to her progress as an athlete, but they were going to let her have veto power over any change they suggested.

“It helps a lot that Coach Blaney helps me to do what I want to do,” Butts said. “It’s made a big effect.”

Because she has become a nationally known athlete in her events, Butts’ decision to become a Pirate is already paying dividends for the ECU track program. When Kraft and his coaches recruit, they hold her up as an example of an elite athlete who is thriving at East Carolina. They have already signed a couple of strong recruits from Virginia who were swayed by Butts' stellar first season.

“She singlehandedly could change the face of this program,” Kraft said. “Success breeds success, and when people know she’s here, it’s going to help us get the next great athlete.”

When Kraft thinks of her next three years of eligibility, he entertains big dreams for Butts. She could jump 6-feet and higher on a regular basis, become among the top jumpers in the nation, and even parlay her collegiate success into a professional track career.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say that she’s a girl that I believe can someday be a national champion, and I really believe that she can go beyond that,” he said. “She can go to the next level.

E-mail Bethany Bradsher

Bethany Bradsher Archives

08/06/2010 01:57 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.