Cleves, Soto and Butcher inducted into San Diego Hall of Champions

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The San Diego County High School Coaching Legends banquet Nov. 2 at the Scottish Rite Center in San Diego included the inductions of former El Capitan and West Hills coach Bill Cleves, former West Hills coach Eric Sato, and former Granite Hills team physician Richard Butcher.

The San Diego County High School Coaching Legends banquet Nov. 2 at the Scottish Rite Center in San Diego included the inductions of former El Capitan and West Hills coach Bill Cleves, former West Hills coach Eric Sato, and former Granite Hills team physician Richard Butcher.

Cleves and Sato were inducted as Coaching Legends while Butcher was inducted posthumously with a Meritorious Achievement Award.  The San Diego Hall of Champions initiated the San Diego County High School Coaching Legends inductions in 1999.  In 2003 the Meritorious Achievement Award was created to honor administrators, media members, officials, sports medicine personnel, and other non-coaches who earned distinction in the San Diego County high school sports community.

Cleves, who was a student-athlete at Helix High School, coached cross-country and track at El Capitan and West Hills for 29 years as an assistant or head coach.  His teams won 27 league championships, and the El Capitan girls cross-country team won the CIF Class 2A championship in 1989 and the CIF Division II championship in 1993.  El Capitan was the Division II runner-up in 1990 and 1994, and Cleves also coached the 1997 West Hills girls to Division II runner-up status during his first year at that school.

“You’re competing against the other team, but as an athlete you’re competing against yourself more than anything else,” Cleves said of coaching cross-country.

Sato coached volleyball at Francis Parker as well as at West Hills and won four girls CIF Division IV championships.  As a player he was on the United States teams that won a gold medal in the 1988 Olympic games and a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympic games.  Although Sato no longer coaches a high school team, he currently coaches at the Epic Volleyball Club in Poway.

“What I loved the most was working with the kids,” Sato said.  “That was really rewarding for me.”

Butcher passed away in November 2016 at the age of 77.  He was the Granite Hills team physician for more than 35 years.  “He gave of himself and asked nothing in return but a smile, a hug, and care for others around,” said his son Richard Oliver Butcher II.

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