McKendree graduate Kendall Butler kicks off career with Dallas Cowboys

Sometimes people spend their whole life planning only to have everything change in the blink of an eye.

That’s what happened to Kendall Butler who came to McKendree University four years ago with plans to become a school teacher. A chance conversation changed her whole perspective. On Saturday she graduated with a degree in marketing and now moves onto a dream job with the Dallas Cowboys.

“I had a friend at Baylor University who told me about internship programs from professional sports teams and gave me some contact info,” Butler said. “I ended up with an internship with the Detroit Pistons, and I loved it.”

Butler said she worked in the ticket department where she made cold calls to about 80 people a day to try to convince them to buy seats.

“It was a tough job,” Butler said. “Their arena is about 40 miles from the city and they haven’t made the playoffs in six years. But it was fun and it was a job that I could put my personality into.”

Butler said she became interested in the Dallas area in pursuit of a place that had warm weather year-round and a new adventure. She applied with all four of the city’s major sports franchises including the Cowboys, the NBA Mavericks, the NHL Stars and the Texas Rangers baseball team.

“The Cowboys were definitely the most exciting ones,” Butler said. “Football is so big in Texas. But I hadn’t heard from them in a month.”

Then one day Butler saw a number from Arlington, Texas, on her caller ID and answered the phone.

“They said they wanted to offer me a job,” Butler said. “I said ‘are you serious?’”

She starts Wednesday with a job as an account executive at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium where she will sell group tickets and give stadium tours.

While she’s always been interested in sports — Butler attended McKendree on a golf scholarship — she never imagined working in them.

When she arrived four years ago as a graduate of O’Fallon Township High School, Butler’s career goal was to become an elementary school teacher.

Q: What made you change your education plans?

A: “I love to be outside and play golf. But it’s different when you’re doing it just for fun or when you’re doing it competitively. It’s not as much fun when it’s more about who wins and who loses instead of just being on the course. We had three-day tournaments of 18 holes each day. It gets to be a lot. And that made me think differently about how I was going to spend my career.”

Q: What other things do you like to do in your free time?

A: “I took piano lessons for 10 years. Sometimes I like when I get home to just sit down at the piano and play for a while.”

Q: Why were you so interested in moving to Texas?

A: “Besides the fact that I want to go to a warm area — I just don’t like to be cold — I thought it sounded like a great place for an adventure. I am excited about the chance to go someplace and start a new life, try new things and be on my own.

Q: Is it a bittersweet feeling to put your college years behind you?

A: “It’s all gone by so fast. If someone would have told me a year and a half ago that I would be getting ready to start this new journey I never would have believed it. I loved my time at McKendree and it’s made me the person I am today. So I’ll miss it, as ready as I am to begin my next chapter.”

Meet Kendall Butler

  • Age: 22
  • Education: Graduated from O’Fallon Township High School in 2012; graduated from McKendree University May 21 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing
  • Parents: Vince and Janet Butler of O’Fallon
  • Hobbies: Playing golf and spending time with friends and family
  • Career Goal: To continue to work in sports marketing with a professional team
  • Honors: Graduated cum laude, President’s List, Sports Management Society, academic all-conference member of golf team, interned with the McKendree Marketing Department where she helped design a new website for the school’s The Hills golf course, also interned with the Detroit Pistons