John Butkiewicz was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1990 as an Athlete Member for his contribution to the sport of lacrosse.
Butkiewicz has been a member of the Williamstown Lacrosse club for over 30 years and started playing at the age of 11. Recently he was given the honour of Life Membership at the club, which has been in existence for over 100 years.
In world lacrosse he was recognised as the leading ‘face-off’ player of his era; however always saw himself first as a midfield. In the ‘face-off’ position Butkiewicz was responsible for fundamentally redefining the concept of play in this position and his methods have been copied extensively. At one stage the United States changed the local rules to remove ‘face offs’ due to Australia’s dominance however that was only short lived. Today ‘face-off’ techniques developed by Butkiewicz are still used extensively both nationally and throughout the world.
Butkiewicz started at Williamstown at just 11 years of age and after a break from play for about four years played for Altona, before returning to Williamstown in 1972 where he started his Senior A grade career. At the club he achieved a record eight Best and Fairest awards (1975, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1989 and 1990) at a time when the club was at its strongest. He also won the Victorian Best and Fairest award in 1975 and 1976.
Butkiewicz played for Victoria at the national titles eleven times from 1973 to 1989. He was voted the most valuable player at the national championships in 1984, 1985, and 1987 and made the Australian All Stars in 1979, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1989. He was named Best Player at the Australian carnival in both 1985 and 1987.
Internationally, Butkiewicz represented Australia a record five times at the World Series, an event played every four years. His first was in Melbourne in 1974, followed by Manchester in 1978, Baltimore in 1982, Toronto in 1986, and Perth in 1990. He was voted the world’s best mid-field player in 1978 and 1982 and selected in the World ‘All Stars’ team in 1982. He was also a member of the 1976 touring Australian team.