Memorable Pep Rally honors Butler (with photos)

Jimmy Butler addresses the crowd at the THS gym.

The call for the pep rally caused students and staff to flood the hallways, a caravan of people entering the gym, ecstatic, paying close attention to catch one of the shirts the cheerleaders and players were throwing randomly to the stands.

After JROTC presented the flags, and the choir sang the national anthem, the pep rally got started. First, all the teams entered the basketball court – basketball, soccer, track, swim, softball, and baseball – all of which announced important games coming up.

Yet this wasn’t what the students were waiting for. The crowd was temporarily pacified by the Charm’s dance routine, but expectation still hovered over the room. People could feel it like they feel humidity in the Texas summer.

If you hadn’t heard what was about to happen by then, you had lived under a rock for a few weeks – one that wasn’t even in Tomball. Everybody was eager to finally see the famous Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls star, and proud Tomball alumnus, right in front of them. He had even brought some of his Chicago Bull teammates with him, including fellow All Star Dwayne Wade.

Just as the crowd thought he was stepping out, the cheerleaders and some of the basketball players jumped out and began to dance … still not what people were expecting. After a few laughs and the basketball team’s dance move showdown to ‘All in This Together,’ the cheerleaders sat down.

People stared at the door, pulled out their phones, and smiled in anticipation as a coach spoke words of admiration. It was finally happening: Jimmy Butler was stepping into the room. Everybody, from the NBA followers to the students who usually skip rallies, on their feet in excitement, waiting.

Just as the crowd gets a glimpse of the local hero, there’s an overwhelming welcome, people screaming and cheering like never before, and there he appeared, smiling, waving to his fellow Tomballians, tall and imposing. He seemed just as his coach had described him: the self-made, hardest working guy he has ever known, who deserves everything he’s got. The spirited welcome continued all through the event.

Then, Principal Greg Quinn invited the city’s mayor and the Tomball city council to give Jimmy a personal welcome. After the obligatory pictures, the council delivered an official proclamation, only interrupted by a few ‘I LOVE YOU JIMMY’ screams from the stands.

The proclamation included a small Jimmy Butler biography: being a first pick in the NBA draft, three-time NBA all-star and three-time honoree. Feb. 2 was officially declared to be the day the legendary Jimmy Butler’s jersey was retired.

Principal Quinn proceeded to solicit Mrs. Billie Ann Dio, another one of Tomball’s most famous role models, into the court to present Butler with a shadow box to display his jersey, his to keep, and an honorary plastic poster to be hanged inside the school.

Then, Butler began to speak.

“I’d get up and love being from Tomball,” he said, showing his pride.

“I remember walking these halls and seeing Coach Ball. He was my freshmen biology teacher. Straight A’s, I know,” he joked.

“There’s nothing I can do to show you how much love it means for you to support me. I want you to know I see all the pictures y’all send and it means so much to me,” he continued.

“I believe that, if you’re from Tomball, you get to be whatever you want to be. I love y’all and thank you,” he ended.

More praise, clamoring and applause followed.

The pep rally concluded with the principal leading the student body, as well as Jimmy, in singing the school song.

“But,” Quinn added, “you can’t be sitting down.”

As everyone merrily sang the melody – standing up, of course – lines of hugging people were seen moving from one side to the other: the Cougar spirit, the pride of Texas, in all its glory.

Story: Legacy: School pays tribute to NBA star

Video: Behind the scenes as Butler visits THS