ASU alum to make GCU coaching debut Monday in Las Vegas
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
One of the more significant wins in the resume of Grand Canyon University Bowling Head Coach Ben Canfield was against his friend AND on-lane nemesis, Jakob Butturff, when the two future Arizona State University teammates clashed in 2011 in the Junior Bowlers’ Tour Championship Match in Camp Verde.
Unbeknownst to Canfield at the time, that loss stoked a fire inside Butturff that powered him the next day to a JBT title. The meaning of those outcomes is something Butturff still feels today. “That week was a motivator that really got things started for me,” remarked Butturff. “Gave me the confidence to aim higher.”
Two years later, Canfield and Butturff were integral parts of the ASU Bowling machine together for a single season under head coach Jordan Nassburg. From there, the two would take different roads in their sport as Butturff turned pro the next year, winning 13 Pro Bowlers Association Region titles, a pair of PBA National Championships, a runner-up finish at this year’s PBA U.S. Open, and even the men’s USA Team Trials title; while Canfield finished out his tour at ASU as both an CTBCA All-American and four-time NCBCA Academic All-American, then moved across town to become the young coaching phenom that would build the GCU men’s and women’s bowling teams from the ground up.
Now, the roads for the two have come together again as Canfield has hired his former Sun Devil teammate as his first-ever assistant coach at GCU.
“When he said he needed help to step in, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help one of my best friends and be a coach,” added Butturff. “Why not take the chance, and build relationships along with that?”
“He’s brings a lot to the table,” said Canfield. “He’s done a bunch the past couple of years, from bowling for Team USA to winning titles on tour all across the country. He just brings a wealth of knowledge, and I think the dynamic of our friendship will be great for the team, since we’re up front with each other. We know how to have fun, but we both know what it takes to be successful in the bowling world.”
Sounds like a quote from a 50-year-old coach about his new 40-something assistant. Now you know why Canfield has been garnering respect for maturity that belies his years ever since he stepped on the GCU campus 2 years ago. Ben is 24. Butturff is 23. Neither is the slightest bit worried about Butturff’s youth hindering getting respect from his new charges, since his resume’ is one they all would love to have themselves.
“My key is just making sure that someone’s always prepared when they’re going to their next tournament,” said Butturff. “If I see something wrong in their game, I have to make sure they focus more on that more than anything going to the next tournament.” That’s music to Canfield’s ears, since he’s already putting Butturff to work with the Lopes’ women’s team in preparation for their two tournaments this week, the Las Vegas Invitational (tonight and tomorrow) and the Collegiate Shoot-out (December 20/21).
It’s no accident that Canfield got Butturff in the fold now, since the tournaments will be at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas, which was the site of one of Butturff’s PBA Championship wins last year, and Canfield’s already thinking a few steps ahead. “He’s had a lot of success there, so I think it’d be helpful for him to be with the women at that first tournament,” said Canfield. “Then we might see how he works with the guys in the second tournament. It’s kind of abrupt for the bowlers, I know, so I’ll be listening to the feedback from not just Jakob, but my other bowlers that will be working with him, because I want them to be comfortable with the change.”