Entering his seventh season at Butler, Head Coach Mike Helmer has re-energized the Grizzly basketball program, both on the court and in the eyes of the Butler faithful. His drive and determination is infectious, as his student-athletes strive to succeed in competition and in the classroom. Helmer has led the Lady Grizzlies to 126 wins during his tenure, averaging 20 wins per season with an average of 26 wins over the last three seasons. Each of the last four seasons have seen the Lady Grizzlies make trips to the Region VI tournament in Wichita.
The 2013-14 season was a record-breaking year for Butler. The team broke nearly every single-season school record on their way to Butler's first ever appearance in the women's national tournament. The Grizzlies went 34-3, including an undefeated 12-0 record in conference play. The conference title was the first for Butler since 1995. Along the way, Butler won 30 straight games. The Grizzlies finished sixth in the final national rankings and reached the "Elite 8" in the national tournament.
Helmer also coached Butler's first women's basketball All-American in Te'era Williams. Helmer himself was honors for Butler's remarkable run, earning Jayhawk East Conference Coach of the Year honors. This past summer, he was also named the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association (KBCA) Women's Junior College Coach of the Year.
In addition to the basketball honors and accolades, the Grizzlies posted a team GPA of 3.30. The Grizzlies sent seven players on to four-year programs - three to NCAA Division I, two to NCAA Division II and one each to NCAA Division III and NAIA.
While the 2013-14 season was the best in school history, Helmer spent years laying the foundation for such success. In the past six years, the Grizzlies have defeated 11 ranked opponents, including a 23-point drubbing of on the road at Iowa Western last November. Other top 25 wins came against Cowley (2014 twice), State Fair (2013), Garden City Community College (2013), Redlands (2012), Iowa Western (2011), Hutchinson (2011), Independence (2009), Cloud County (2010) and Kansas City, Kansas (2011).
Under Helmer’s guidance, the Grizzlies have gone 31-1 within the friendly confines of their home arean, the Power Plant, over the last two seasons and posted an average team GPA of a 3.21 during Helmer’s six year tenure. The totals of what Helmer has accomplished at Butler are staggering. He has coached twelve all conference players, eight all-region performers, a host of academic all-Americans and five all-American candidates, including Butler’s first-ever NJCAA All American. Helmer has helped eight players get to NCAA Division I and 11 to the NCAA Division II level. In Addition, Helmer also helped groom Butler’s first three NJCAA Coaches Association All-Stars in Jamillah Bonner (2012), Ashlee Ivy (2013) and Ashley Gibson (2014).
Just as important, Helmer has become a front-runner on the recruiting trail, as evidenced by his success with his in-state recruiting classes. The native Kansan, Helmer prides himself on getting the best players in the state and helping them transfer on to the next level.
Helmer is able to maximize each and every student-athlete’s contribution to the team through his uncanny ability to encourage and motivate. Examples of such ability are found in two players- Tysia Manuel and Renisha Hunter who went from virtual unknowns to signing NCAA Division I scholarships (Hunter in 2009 to Nicholls State University and Manuel in 2013 to Oral Roberts University) on the merit of hard work and dedication.
“We are excited that Mike is part of our basketball program,” said Butler Athletic Director Todd Carter. “He comes from a basketball family with a history of basketball excellence in the state of Kansas. Mike understands the importance of recruiting locally, which is necessary to help us compete for championships.”
Helmer began his coaching career at Wichita South High School leading them to unprecedented heights including a 6A runner-up finish. During his tenure at South High, Helmer coached Christine Elliott, who signed with Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. While at SMU, Elliott became a member of the 1000 point club and amassed over 900 rebounds for her career. Helmer also mentored Megan Lassley, who signed with Seward County out of high school and then went on to play at NCAA Division II powerhouse Washburn University.
Before Helmer began his high school coaching career, he spent eight years managing a personal training facility in Lawrence, Kansas.
After a stellar high school career at Marion High School, Helmer played collegiate hoops at Pratt Community College and then at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Helmer is married to the former Kristina Anderson, and the couple resides in El Dorado with their children Anderson (6) and Carson (3).