BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Selena Buttery was searching for a way to improve her footwork on the basketball court.
So, naturally, Buttery took a unique approach. Doing the unexpected thing has turned into something of a trademark for the Brockway senior.
Struggling to keep her feet and move well as a clumsy ninth-grader, Buttery started playing tennis as a way to get lighter and quicker on her feet.
And more sure-footed.
“My balance was really bad,” Buttery said, laughing. “My freshman year in basketball, I was falling over constantly. That year of tennis and then coming into my sophomore year, it helped drastically.”
Tennis was never a really serious sport for Buttery. Sure, she wanted to do well on a different kind of court. After all, her older sister, Savannah, was quite good with a racket in her hands and is currently playing at Clarion University.
Basketball, though, was her main focus. As Buttery was taking drubbings as Brockway’s No. 1 singles player as a freshman, her goal was still to get more nimble when she went back to a more familiar court.
“I got destroyed by everybody,” Buttery said.
That didn’t sit well with the competitive Buttery. She began to work on her game with her sister in the summer and also got some serious instruction from Clarion University women’s tennis coach Cynthia Copenhaver.
Suddenly, Buttery’s skills improved significantly.
“(Copenhaver) started right from the basics and taught me everything exactly how it should be,” Buttery said. “She played professionally, and I think it helps a lot having a coach like that who knows what they’re talking about in the sense of basic skills to start you off.”
What was once just a means to an end to get better at basketball became another passion for Buttery.
She was grateful for those drubbings she endured as a freshman.
“Losing, I think, helped me a lot more than if I would have won right away,” Buttery said. “I got to watch how the other players play me and that helped me develop over time.”
Now, something that was unthinkable for Buttery just a few years ago will become a reality.
She will play Division II college tennis.
Oh, she will also play basketball, too. That sports still remains her No. 1 passion.
Buttery signed two national letters of intent Friday to play both basketball and tennis at Chaminade University of Honolulu.
On the surface, the reason to go all the way to Hawaii to attend college is obvious.
“The weather,” Buttery said, chuckling. “I’m not really a cold-weather person.”
There were other reasons, though. There’s close ties there at Chaminade.
The men’s basketball coach, Eric Bovaird, is a Brockway native and he was how Buttery first became interested in Chaminade.
Buttery took an official visit in November and was hooked. She immediately committed for both basketball and tennis.
“It’s crazy how much you can do there that’s completely different than here,” she said. “I got to go surfing for the first time when I went there, so that was interesting. The school is really pretty.”
And, of course, the weather.
“Yeah,” she said, laughing. “So amazing.”
With scholarships in two sports, Buttery’s education will be completely paid for. She will study environmental analytics with a minor in elementary education. Her major will afford her the opportunity to get an even more in-depth view of Hawaii and the surrounding islands.
“I’m going to get to measure and study craters,” Buttery said. “That will be fun an interesting.”
When Buttery signed her letters of intent Friday, she had a special guest.
Her mother, Suzane, a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force Reserves, is deployed in New Mexico as part of Operation Allies Welcome. She is assisting refugees in Afghanistan refugees settle in the country.
Suzane, though, was able to participate in the signing over FaceTime.
“Actually, my dad (Steve, who is the assistant girls basketball coach at Brockway) said, ‘Maybe we should just put her hat there,’” Buttery said. “I was like, ‘No. That’ll make it look like she’s dead or something.’”
Instead, they did the signing later in the day so Suzane could dial in from New Mexico.
Suzane has been in the Air Force for 23 years. The family lived in Washington D.C. for a time before moving to Brockway. Buttery has four siblings. Savannah is the eldest at 21, followed by Ethan, 19. Her two younger siblings are Maria, 12, and Roman, 9.
“Dad has always been the cook and the cleaner,” Selena Buttery said. “He’s always been that stay-at-home dad because of how long my mom has to leave sometimes. He does a really good job taking care of us and getting us to our sports.”
Buttery has a chance at a rare feat during her career at Brockway.
She is closing in on 1,000 points and rebounds.
Buttery broke the career rebounding record at the school several weeks ago and had 901 now in her career. She also had 851 points roughly midway through her final season.
“It would mean a lot to me,” Buttery said. “My dad has been coaching since I started playing and I remember watching Leah Lindemuth get her (1,000 points) and I just remember sitting on the bench and saying to my mom, ‘I hope I can do that some day.’”
Buttery thought it was a longshot. But as the years have gone by she’s scoring more and more.
At 5-foot-10, Buttery can play inside and outside. She was seemingly unlimited range from the outside and showcases it often.
She goal is to make an immediate impact with the Silverswords next year.
“I’m hoping that when I come in, I’ll be able to help them with shooting,” Buttery said. I mean, they’re not. They’re more like a drive- and post-player kind of team right now.”
Buttery can’t wait to show off that range — launching 3-pointers from Maui.
She’s also excited about playing tennis — something she never dreamed she would beyond high school.
“I never thought about playing tennis in college,” Buttery said. “It’s just amazing I get to do both.”