WINCHESTER — There haven’t been many area soccer players who have graduated from high school and gone on to the type of success enjoyed by Dustin Butcher, who led NCAA Division I George Mason University to 11 wins in 17 starts as the team’s goalkeeper in 2012.
Now the 29-year-old Sherando High School graduate is returning to the organization he started his playing career with to try and help future generations realize their own soccer dreams.
Butcher has been hired as the executive director for Blue Ridge Youth Soccer Association Inc., in Winchester. Butcher, who began tutoring local youth players during his all-state career at Sherando (class of 2008), will oversee the organization’s recreation program as well as its travel program, Winchester United.
Butcher comes to BRYSA after six years with the Virginia Soccer Association, a partner organization of the United that is based in Haymarket. At VSA, Butcher was the goalkeeper director and the director of operations.
Butcher succeeds Jim Carden as the director of Winchester United. The 75-year-old Carden’s retirement and Butcher’s reign officially began on Feb. 1. Carden founded United in 1999 when it consisted of just two boys’ teams. There are now 23 teams that compete under the United banner.
“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said Butcher of taking over at BRYSA, which features more than 1,300 youth recreational and travel participants each year. “I get a chance to work in my hometown and a community I used to play in. I have family in the club; I have friends that coach. I’m just excited to work in the area where it all started for me. I think it’s come full-circle, so I’m really looking forward to that.
“I want to create an inclusive environment. Players are going to have big lofty goals of playing in college and playing professionally; then we’re going to also have kids who just enjoy playing. For us, it’s making sure we meet the needs of everybody. Just kind of create an environment that everybody can believe in and that everybody’s proud of. If we can do that, I’m going to be really pleased. I think we will.”
Butcher spoke last week during a group interview at Shenandoah Valley Orthodontics, the place of employment for Dan Lill, the chairman of BRYSA’s board of directors. Lill, Carden and longtime Blue Ridge recreational director Rob Douglas also attended.
Carden — who retired from coaching high school soccer in May after a combined 22 years at Handley (boys) and James Wood (girls) — feels BRYSA will be in good hands with Butcher, a man he once coached. Carden said the fact that Butcher expressed interest a couple of months ago in joining BRYSA if a leadership opportunity came up is part of the reason why he’s stepping down.
“You come to a point where you just feel it’s better for someone else to take over,” Carden said. “When Dustin expressed interest, I started thinking more and more about and what was best for soccer in this area.
“We were looking for someone who we believed could do this, and do it the right way. There was no question in our minds that Dustin was the one to do this.”
Butcher’s hiring and Carden’s retirement are just part of a revamped leadership change at BRYSA.
Though Winchester United has been part of BRYSA for about five years, during that time there have been two separate boards of directors, one serving the BRYSA recreation program, the other serving the United travel program. Both boards consisted of at least eight members, and Carden said United also had an additional four-member executive board.
Douglas expressed his appreciation last week for all those board members because they volunteered to work long hours.
But from now on, BRYSA will have one board consisting of seven people that will serve the interests of both the recreation and travel programs. While the two boards consulted with each other, those assembled last week felt one, smaller group of decision-makers will help create a more focused vision.
“Communication will be better, decisions will be easier because we won’t have travel doing one thing and rec doing just the opposite,” said Carden, whom Butcher plans on using as a consultant in the future.
Carden noted that both boards essentially consisted entirely of coaches. BRYSA — which makes heavy use of Sherando Park as well as places like James Wood Middle School and Handley High School — hopes to one day create a facility it can call its own. Its new board, which will feature more people with a business-minded approach, could help with that.
Butcher said the board features Nathan Laing, owner of OneSource Inc., in Winchester; Steve Pettler, a lawyer with Harrison & Johnston, PLC in Winchester; Steve Slaughter, president and CEO of Frederick Block, Brick & Stone; and Shane Bell, the CFO of First Bank. Steve Cannata and Amy Sluss are also on the board in addition to Lill.
A notable change on the recreation side is that while Douglas will continue to remain active in BRYSA — particularly in the field complex project — he will give way to another former Sherando standout, goalkeeper Rodrigo Casteriana, as the director of recreation. Casteriana earned Winchester Star Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2013, six years after Butcher. Butcher was a Warriors assistant coach in 2013.
Butcher said there currently are no plans to have a director of travel. BRYSA serves about 700 fewer travel players than recreational players, and Butcher feels United’s coaches don’t need as much direction because of their extensive experience.
“He’s young. He’s hungry,” said Butcher of Casteriana. “Like me, he’s got ties to the area as well, so you’re not going to find anybody who’s going to buy into the process more than him I think.
“We’ll look to keep Susan Simpson on board as the rec administrator, and Mary Mohler, who’s been helping on the travel side for years. From my standpoint, having a mixture of me and Rodrigo coming in with maybe some new ideas, mixed in with people that are already involved [with BRYSA and United], I think it’s going to be great for us with the transition.”