Joey Butler (left) with teammate Isaiah Poppe (photo courtesy of the Butler family)
How it started: 2017 InterMat Article on Joey Butler
How it's going:
Joey Butler, a Cadet-athlete at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, is no ordinary college freshman. With aspirations to go into the military from a young age, he knew that attending military college was a goal of his. The journey to wrestling at The Citadel started when he was in kindergarten playing tee-ball, when a parent talked to his dad, Joe Sr., about the recreational youth wrestling program. Joey, who loved WWE at the time, figured it was like what he saw on tv, so he decided to try it out and stuck with it. In around the fourth grade, Joey had joined a local club team and was wrestling in larger tournaments, while playing football and lacrosse, but after seeing his success on the mat, he decided to focus on wrestling. After earning multiple accolades in New Jersey's Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling, Joey was a Maccabi Games placer, traveling to Israel in 2017 to wrestle with athletes from Israel and Russia. Fast-forward to his junior year of high school and Joey took a visit to The Citadel, where he knew it was the program for him. Joey is the recipient of an Army ROTC scholarship, which means that he will serve five years in the Army upon graduation. "It's really a disciplinary thing; you're being taught the military way," Joey says of his future experience as a Cadet-athlete. Joey wrestled his freshman year of high school in the 106lb weight class, and is projected to wrestle 165 this season with The Citadel.
Wrestle in My Shoes began when Joey was in the fourth grade at 10 years old, when he noticed at a wrestling tournament that four or five kids were sharing the same pair of wrestling shoes. He asked his dad why these kids had to do this, and his father, Joe Sr., told Joey that these kids weren't able to afford their own pairs of wrestling shoes. During this time, Joey was also attending Hebrew school, so he could have a Bar Mitzvah which requires a social action project, or a mitzvah project. He knew what he wanted to do: collect wrestling shoes for kids who couldn't afford them. And Wrestle in My Shoes was born. While he didn't continue with Hebrew school or have a Bar Mitzvah, Wrestle in My Shoes took off and has continued to be a great success globally. Over 3,000 pairs of shoes, over 50 mats, and other wrestling gear have been donated worldwide. The most recent large donations have been wrestling shoes and mats to Puerto Rico, which involved clubs throughout New Jersey serving as collection sites for wrestling shoes.
"We do whatever it takes to help out and whatever is best for everybody." Joey's attitude toward helping others is a perfect fit for The Citadel's vision statement: "Achieving excellence in the education and development of principled leaders," as well as their core values of honor, duty, and respect. When asked what he looks forward to most about his college experience, Joey is excited to find the balance between academics, cadet responsibilities, ROTC, and Division I wrestling. We wish Joey much success as he has given so much to the wrestling community, promoting the world's greatest and oldest sport!
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