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Going the distance for kids

A day later, he was in New York City for a college basketball game. Tonight he will be at another basketball game at Peachtree Ridge.

It's only going to get more hectic for Butler, and he knows it. His oldest son Brenton plays college basketball for Fordham in New York. His son Brice, a Norcross senior, committed to Southern California football, which means criss-crossing the country to watch his children.

That's in addition to watching his two youngest sons' games - one is a ninth-grader at Norcross and one is a seventh-grader.

"I'll be running those Sky Miles up," said a laughing Butler, a former Atlanta Falcons cornerback. "Where our kids go to college has got nothing to do with me and my wife. It's about our kids finding the right places for themselves. They can grow up fans of schools here locally, but those schools might not be the right place for them. We just wanted them to find the right place."

Butler's travel isn't unique to him. A number of parents from this area journey to watch their children's college games, by car and/or plane.

Greater Atlanta Christian football coach Jimmy Chupp regularly took early Saturday morning flights after his Friday night games to see his sons play college games at Wheaton in Chicago, only to fly back home immediately.

Carl and Yulinda Cook also stay busy. Their sons, North Gwinnett grads Jason and Jared, play football at Ole Miss and South Carolina, respectively. So they split up every Saturday in the fall, so one parent will be there for each son.

Bill Bloom and his wife did the same thing as they followed their four daughters, all Brookwood grads - Amy (a three-sport athlete at Lenoir-Rhyne, N.C.), Katie (a gymnast at Southeastern Missouri), Kelly (a runner at Kennesaw State) and Abby (a runner at Georgia Southern).

"We've had some weekends where we had three athletes in three different states competing," Bloom said. "Needless to say, you can't get to all of them, but we got to as many as we could....we easily went to 80 percent of their (college events). Cross country and track isn't a spectator sport, so a lot of times we were the only parents in the stands."

Butler won't be the only parent at his children's basketball and football games. But he still wants to be there.

"They're all two or three years apart from one another so it's been busy for a long time," Butler said. "We changed diapers for 10 straight years. We're on the tail end of it now, but they're blessings."

Blessings worth going to see.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.