Sarah Butterworth - We Will Always Remember

On Sunday, October 28th there will be a short walk starting at 11 am from Sarah’s Bench at the Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park.   Sarah would have been 50 years young on October 24 and 2018 marks the 15th year of her passing….below is an article written by Mauro Cugini in 2003 in memory of Butter.

 

The Vikings Women’s Ball Hockey team was established in 1988 when Harry Dion, a long time player with the Astros Men’s Ball Hockey team, founded the Vancouver Women’s Ball Hockey League (the VWBHL).  The Vikings, who originally consisted of a converted group of soccer players who played in the western ball hockey league, quickly grew to prominence and became a very successful team that consequently managed to out run and hence outscore most of their opponents.  

The team, which lost and gained different players over the first couple of years, eventually settled down with a core group of participants that included Sarah Butterworth, affectionately known as ‘Butter’.  She had played soccer, ice hockey, and ringette (and was an accomplished athlete in all of those sports), and worked out, so we knew we had our ace in the hole.  She could out run and out hustle anyone, but she was constantly trying to master the stick handling and shooting parts of ball hockey … she was always willing to try and learn and often laughed at herself when she lost control of the ball or fumbled a weak shot away.  They would often hear their coach yelling “Butter, two hands on the stick, and keep your stick on the floor” … she remembered for a couple of shifts, but then she reverted back to her own style, and that was just perfect, because they had other players who could shoot, stick handle, score goals, and get assists.  Butter thrived on shutting down the other teams players, and she valued her role on a grinding line.  Her attributes were displayed best in the National finals in 1994, when she played an important role after coming back from a serious knee injury that kept her out of the Nationals finals in 1993.  She was part of a gold medal winning team, but not just any team, it was the Vikings, the team that meant the most to her through her storied sports career.  

The unique nature of this team … they were friends, and really had fun together away from the game, everyone was accepting, and they were all at the age and a point in our lives where they gave lots of time to each other.  The Vikings kept on playing after 1994, and ended up in a couple more Nationals finals, but never winning anything more than Silver medals.  The team disbanded in 2001 because now the players had other priorities, family, careers, and new interests, and the “hey days” were over.  

Unfortunately, Butter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  The woman, who so reveled in her ability to run freely, was now saddled with the biggest challenge of her life.  She fought valiantly, and was able to have one last memory involving ball hockey.  The Sharks ball hockey team signed her as Coach/Manager for the 2003 season.  Butter was on the bench in Montreal for the Sharks championship run.  Her presence, both physically, and emotionally, was a big boost for the team … and her endless stories about the Vikings told with smiles and laughter, really set the mood for the Sharks to bond.  

We will always cherish her, and although she left us on October 30, 2003, at the precious age of 35, we know that her spirit will be with us in Ontario as we hope to smile and laugh again in her memory.  

In 2004 we introduced the Sarah Joanna Bostock Butterworth Memorial Award, which honors a female athlete who displays her qualities of sportsmanship, leadership, dedication and most importantly, love for the sport. 

 

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