Butte Central’s waterboy brings Maroons much more than H20
At any given Butte Central home basketball, one voice from the Maroons can sometimes be heard above the others. "Box out!" is one of the tips you will hear a lot of the time, but this instruction is not from Coach Kelly or one of his assistants. Rather it is Butte Central's longtime waterboy and number one fan Ronnie Counts, or "Coach Ron" as he is affectionately known, who is a fixture on the Maroons bench and has been for decades. "I don't know when he started but he was here when I was playing," boys Head Coach Brodie Kelly reminisced before the Maroons game against Dillon last Thursday. "When Bergie (former coach Tom Berg) was coaching back in '92, he was at everything," Kelly added. Even Ronnie himself doesn't have an exact date. "All of my life," was his response when asked about how long he has been a part of the team. "I like coaching and being the manager," he added.
He's Butte Central's biggest fan," said longtime Athletic Director Chad Petersen. "He never misses anything, he never criticizes anybody and he is always encouraging to our athletes and he's a great presence to have around for fans, for our teams, obviously and our coaches," Petersen added. Don Peoples, Jr., who wears too many administrative hats to list was in agreement. "He's Mr. Loyal," Peoples explained, adding that he refers to athletes and students as brothers and sisters. "He's one big part of our school family."
And he's been a big part of the teams he's coached. Not only would Kelly's '92 Maroons win the state championship under Ronnie's watchful eye, but Kelly says Counts will occasionally submit a play to his current batch of Maroons who are defending a state championship of their own. On the whiteboard that he brings to every game, Ronnie once had a play he was sure to work. "He had eight or nine guys on the floor and all of them were going straight to the basket," Kelly explained with a laugh. (In Brodie's defense, he IS more of a defensive coach.) Although Ronnie's enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of him on the BC bench, it is very rare that he will draw the ire of the officials or even a technical. But it will happen. Kelly explained, "One time we were playing in Helena and the officials got us for coming out of the locker room late at halftime," adding, "I was like 'what the hell?', nobody came and told us at three minutes and the official says, 'uh-uh, we told that coach right over there," The official pointed to the BC bench, unoccupied save for Coach Ron who was sitting down, finishing off a hot dog.
Coach Ron loves the Maroons. But Coach Ron also loves a good hot dog.