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Butch Kamena: WWU Assistant Athletics Director for Compliance and Academics

CDN's weekly community profile

Butch Kamena stands in his office March 20 in Carver Gym at Western Washington University. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)
By Connor J. Benintendi Staff Reporter

Theodore 'Butch' Kamena (he/him)

Age: 57

City: Bellingham

Lived here for: 40 of the last 43 years

Originally from: Inglewood, California

Notable: Political science instructor, volunteer prep soccer coach, Western basketball commentator, Sehome High School graduate and former sports information assistant/writer.

Where does the nickname 'Butch' come from?

My father gave it to me. I am technically a junior and I got his name, and he called me Butch right out of the womb — thought I’d grow out of it. Fifty-seven years later, here I am.

How would you summarize your role in the WWU Athletics Department?

I oversee all sorts of things in terms of the department following NCAA rules and guidelines in terms of eligibility and recruiting rules and practice hours, financial aid.

I also work with the athletes. I help them when somebody needs help determining majors and figuring out schedules and helping them figure out academic progress and all those things.

That’s really the fun part of it, is I get to see these people kind of go through that process and get to see them grow as people over the time that they’re here.

As a sports-minded person, what interested you in pursuing an extensive background in political science?

I always had those twin interests, and  I love competition. I love competition in the athletic sphere, but I also love competition in the political sphere.

When I was an undergrad here [at Western] and in my first years coming back after grad school, the political science office and the football offices were actually on the same floor of Arntzen Hall. That was like heaven for me. It was just an amazing thing to have both those sets of people there and they got along very well. It was really neat to watch.

How have you ended up as the fill-in color commentator for WWU basketball during various seasons?

I used to call stats working for Paul Madison, and so I was sitting right next to the radio guys. Eventually, I kind of drifted out of stats and was still sitting there, so I would take numbers from that and feed them, at that time, to Doug Lange and Mark Scholten.

At some point, I ended up getting a set of headphones so I could hear what they were saying, but I didn’t get to talk. And then a couple of times when one of them wasn’t there, I got to fill in.

What’s your favorite moment in WWU sports history?

It’s not one game. It is the late ’80s men’s basketball games against Central Washington where, the old wooden bleachers, you could put 3,000 people in here [Carver Gym] and all of those games would be sold out in advance.

That was probably the most electric thing, but there are so many. I feel guilty picking out one.

How did you first get involved in local prep sports?

I covered high school sports for the [Bellingham] Herald from 1985, which was my sophomore year at Western, until 1993 when I went to [University of] Calgary … that’s how I first got involved.

In the early part of this decade, as my kids started to grow up, [Western women’s soccer coach] Travis Connell got me into coaching in the Rangers program for a couple of years. He says, ‘Yeah, you can do this.’ And so I’m like, ‘Okay, if Travis says I can, I’m not going to argue.’ When my oldest son was a sophomore at Lynden Christian, [I began] volunteering in the soccer programs there, which I’ve now done — this is year 13 on both sides, the girls and the boys.

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