By Nate Smith
WASHINGTON — The Eastside Park Community Building was awash with blue as Butler University basketball coach Brad Stevens spoke at the annual Senior and Family Services banquet. Stevens and the Butler program may be considered one of the hottest in the country following their runner-up finish in last year’s NCAA tournament, but the coach talked mainly about what many sports writers and pundits talked about in March — The Butler Way. “As we move on and I was an assistant, I was drawn to Butler because they were a team,” Stevens said. “If anyone wants to label us anywhere, whether it being overseas, whether it be nationally or locally, it’s being a team.” The Butler way, in a nutshell, forms the acronym SHARPENS: Selflessness, Humility, Accountability, Resiliency, Passion, an “Even keel,” “No doubts,” and “Service to others.” The coach talked about all those traits, that have not only been stressed by him over the past two years, but by the coaches that came before him at Butler. “The more people that embody those values, the more people that embrace those values, the more chance you have at success,” Stevens said. In making his points, Stevens used stories from his life, especially now in the spotlight after Butler’s recent success, to keep him humble. He said that way is not just for his players, but for himself as well. “I can’t expect Drew or his teammates or our current team to do those things if I don’t do those things,” Stevens said. Introducing Stevens was his friend and former player Drew Streicher. Streicher, a 2003 Washington High School and 2008 Butler graduate, also talked about the way and how that has influenced his life. “It’s much more than just a slogan, it’s a culture,” Streicher said. “It’s a way we try to live our lives.” The current third-year medical student, who just got married to his wife Jenna this summer, talked about his memories on the court. Stevens said Streicher was “the ultimate teammate.” “Drew Streicher’s impact will go beyond basketball and well beyond basketball at Butler,” Stevens said. Area high school teams were in attendance, as per the custom of the past four SAFS dinners. Because of NCAA rules, Stevens could not talk to any of the players or their parents. Stevens said anyone can take the message of being part of a team to heart. “We always tell our guys ‘We don’t want this to be your highlight,’” Stevens said. “We want your highlight to come later.” Toward the end of the evening, Stevens was given a quilt, furnished by Lucille Dillon, to thank the coach for coming to Washington. Streicher and his wife also received a baby blanket for their contribution to SAFS. The agency also auctioned off tickets to a Butler home game and two paintings signed by Stevens. SAFS Board President Mike Owens said at the end of the dinner that with the money raised by Steven’s speech and from other coaches over the years, the agency “will be close to paying off” the newly-renovated facility on 211 E. Main St.