By Becky Aubut
TAUNTON, Mass. — John Gouveia was sitting in his parish church watching the Catholic Charities Appeal video explaining about the different services the CCA provides for, and suddenly a segment featuring Donald “Butch” Morrison popped up.
“He was explaining how he had been involved in the CYO since 1958 and was still there,” said Gouveia. “I had no idea that Butch was still involved after all these years. I found that amazing.”
Gouveia grew up across the street from Morrison’s family, but really got to know Morrison when Gouveia was a teen-ager and joined as a player for the Christian Youth Organization basketball team at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Taunton.
“I was always amazed at how unselfish he was at the fact he was always there at the CYO, many nights for many teams, and he just really ran a first-class operation,” said Gouveia of Morrison. “He provided a league that was really what the youth needed in my time, and I really enjoyed my years of playing at the CYO.”
Gouveia reached out to Morrison and Father Jay Maddock, the current director of CYO, who came to know Morrison early on, said Gouveia, “and he didn’t know that when he first met Butch in 1975, that Butch had already been involved with CYO for 17 years before that.”
While there are some people who would have moved on very quickly after seeing someone from their past in a Catholic Charities Appeal video — for Gouveia, that wasn’t enough.
“I know myself, and I’ve been involved in youth sports,” he said. “I run a card club and I know what it takes to organize the league for everything that has to go forward to make it work. I know how much work it is for someone to run a league and be responsible for it. Seeing Butch involved all these years, I can just imagine what type of a person it takes [to run it], and his organization is a lot larger than mine is.”
Gouveia wanted the city of Taunton to recognize Morrison for his contributions to the youth of Taunton, and knew the mayor, Thomas Hoye, liked to recognize those involved in youth sports. But when Gouveia called Hoye, he was surprised that Hoye had his own Morrison connection.
“He was a player back in the 80s,” said Gouveia, “and as he became a parent in later years, his daughter joined the CYO and was surprised to see that Butch was still there.”
Morrison was four years old when he moved to Taunton from Springfield. He played as a teen-ager, or as he put it, “sat the bench,” for the CYO baseball team in his sophomore year of high school.
“The baseball league, which was a terrific league at the time, went up to the age of 21, so I was there for quite a few years,” said Morrison. “By the time I was through in 1965, I then became an assistant coach in 1966, and then the head coach of the baseball league in 1967.”
Morrison said he felt it was a natural progression to go from player to coach: “It wasn’t anything that I planned and I never thought I would be doing it 50 years later.”
The CYO sports program at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish continued to evolve through the years. The CYO baseball program ended in 1973 —though Morrison has continued to coach the Babe Ruth League in Taunton for more than 40 years — but basketball has thrived and during the winter Morrison said he can be found on the court every night. Morrison has been coaching basketball since 1968, and became co-director of CYO in 1972.
Though he began to play a larger role in the CYO program, he took it in stride: “I never looked at it as a jump in duties. The duties included coordinating the schedule, scheduling referees, collecting registration fees, and working with different parishes involved. I was asked and I said I would do it. I didn’t see it as any big deal. It was something I did.”
In the meantime, his family had moved to Raynham and discovered their new parish, St. Ann’s, didn’t have a CYO program. Morrison asked to start a program and it launched in the fall of 1975. By default, said Morrison, he became the director of St. Ann’s CYO program.
“Since that time and up until today, I coach any team at St. Ann’s that doesn’t have a coach,” said Morrison. “Fortunately all the spots have been filled almost every year, but there have been times when I would coach three or four different teams, from fourth grade to 21 years old.”
Morrison doesn’t look at his contributions as any big deal, he said, adding he feels “very lucky to do what I do, and being involved with as many different people as I have.”
Last year the Taunton CYO basketball program had 54 teams with a total of 550 kids playing CYO basketball with 75-100 coaches for the teams, 18 referees and four or five score keepers; “It’s a nice program,” said Morrison.
After being a presence in the program for 58 years, Morrison has been there so long to regularly field the question, “You’re still here?” on a regular basis as parents who played under him are now signing up their son or daughter for the program.
He’s still there, said Morrison, because “I love doing it. My wife and my family have supported me doing this. I just enjoy it. I have no intention of not continuing in some sort; I’m sure there will come the time I’m replaced as a director. I’m still going to go down there and watch the games, and be involved in whatever way I can. I don’t want to sound corny when I say this, but I literally have 10-year-old friends. I see them on the baseball field, on the basketball court or in church, I know we’re not close buddies but they’re part of my life.”
Getting the citation from the city on Taunton in April was wonderful, and it gave Morrison the opportunity to see people he hadn’t seen in years thanks to social media getting the word out for the ceremony.
“I don’t really see what I do...” said Morrison, trailing off, then pausing before saying, “I don’t know. I struggle to find the right words. I don’t think what I do is extraordinary. Other people put in many years also, and they do it on a parish level. I was humbled by it. I look at it as this is what I do.”