Lakeview grad runs cross country at RIT

Nate Butler always had a passion for automobiles.

He loves to drive them fast, but likes the story each vehicle tells.

“For a lot of people, cars are a way from point A to point B,” said the 2015 Lakeview High School graduate. “It’s never been the whole point of it with me.  To me, a car, with the risk of sounding over-attached, I think a car tells the story just like a person can. A car has a life. It’s born. It sees a bunch of different things metaphorically. Every single one of the things it does shapes what it becomes and is part of it’s character.

“That’s something a lot of people don’t appreciate.”

He raced go-karts as a child, up to age 13. Then, something else drove his competitive nature.

The Lakeview graduate began running cross country in seventh grade, something he still does today as a sophomore at Rochester (N.Y) Institute of Technology, a Division III athletic institution.

“I don’t think many kids grow up thinking, ‘Oh, I want to be the star of the cross country team,’ “ Butler said. “Most kids grow up and want to be a quarterback. I never thought about cross country. For whatever reason, I decided to do it.

“It definitely hit home with me, enjoyed it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

He never gave up automobiles either. It is an integral part of his life as he’s working on a couple of street cars — a 1969 Fiberfab Jamaican and a 1974 Triumph TR6.

Butler, who is studying mechanical engineering at RIT, would like to be an automotive engineer when he graduates. He’s applying for an internship at ThorSport Racing in Sandusky, which handles the NASCAR Truck Series.

It’s his passion.

“My car from 1974, that’s twice my age,” Butler said. “Think of all the people that have ridden in the car before me, people that have driven it. All the fun they probably had, especially back in the day in a convertible. You and your friends go to a diner, Swenson’s burgers, things like that. I think a lot of people really don’t appreciate that any more, especially my generation, which really bums me out.”

Butler appreciated the guidance he received at Lakeview, when it came to cross country. His junior high coach, Burke Ensign, and high school coach, Sean Voorhies, were instrumental in his progress as a distance runner.

“I have trouble putting into words how much those guys meant to me. It was really that special to me,” Butler said.

He had his share of injuries throughout his prep career. How many does he have now?

“How much time do you have?” Butler said. “Nothing major at the moment.”

He healed from a stained hamstring in February. Butler is dealing with a strained calf muscle in his left leg, but nothing too severe.

He ran a little his freshman year before going home because of some family matters. He’s back at RIT trying to surpass an 8K time he ran in 2015 of 28:21.

For him, running, just like racing, encompasses his life.

“I’m still extremely competitive,” Butler said. “I love racing. I love training hard. It’s definitely a release. The program here is pretty intensive. My academic program and athletic program are pretty intense. Running is a bit of an outlet for that if I get pretty stressed by school work, which certainly happens pretty often.

“Most of my friends are on the team. It’s kind of my social network.”