Basketball: A way of life

The locker room is almost cold, as the smell of sweat lingers in the air. Each player engages in their pregame rituals as they prepare for another home game. 
Some players stretch by the lockers, trying to stay loose before having to charge out on to the court. Most of the players have their head phones in, trying to block out the world around them, determined stares on their faces. 
Keenan paces the locker room, bouncing up and down.
“I’m feeling forty tonight, boys,” he says to his teammates as he anxiously awaits Coach Windham’s arrival in the locker room. 
Each game is approached with a feeling of anxiety. Is tonight the night Kennan will break the school record for points in a game? He has come so close so many times, scoring above thirty points on multiple occasions. But the school record continued to slip his grasp.
Fast forward two years. The Falcons take the court on a cool February night, the players looking to their captain to lead them to another victory. 
Though the Falcons still have a Wetzel on the court, it is now Torin’s turn to lead his team into battle. 
Shot after shot falls for the All-State forward till the record is his. After racking up 42 points, a standing ovation ensues as he walks off the court. 
His father, a coach on the bench, greets him with a look of admiration. His mother, in the stands, cheers for the son she has watched become the player he is today.
Basketball is more than just a sport to the Wetzel family, it is a building block for so much more.
Bob Wetzel, a partner at the Godfroy, Wetzel, and Horkey law firm, and Sue Wetzel, MCCC’s vice president of Administration, are the proud parents of three young men. Two of them, Keenan and Torin, compete at the collegiate level in the sport they love, basketball.
The Wetzels have always been a big part of their sons’ basketball careers, whether it was coaching them from the bench or cheering them on from the sideline. 
Mr. Wetzel coached his sons from a young age through the high school level. He worked hard to improve every aspect of their game, and pushed them to be better players on and off the court.
“I know how I was, I was way on the side of seeing every mistake they made, holding them to a higher standard,” Mr. Wetzel said.
The path of being a coach who wants to make sure things are done correctly and simultaneously being a parent who wants their child to succeed is separated by a fine line. Keenan and Torin had similar experiences growing up with a parent coach.
“At times I probably didn’t like it, but I know I am a lot better player and person because of it,” Torin said.
“Having my dad as a coach growing up was certainly a reason I am where I am today,” Keenan said.
 Mr. Wetzel is no longer coaching his sons from the bench and this gives him the experience of watching from the sidelines with Mrs. Wetzel at his side. This opportunity gives him a new perspective with a chance to be a fan.
Even though both Mr. and Mrs. Wetzel work full time jobs, they take advantage of their flexibility in their schedules. They work long nights and weekends in order to make it to both Torin and Keenan’s games as much as possible. They are their sons’ biggest fans.
“It would be tough to look back in five years and say, ‘boy we wish we would have arranged our schedules better and worked a little harder so we could have seen them play more’,” Mr. Wetzel said.
Mrs. Wetzel’s biggest project over the past few years as the VP of Administration was the construction of MCCC’s new Career Technology Center. 
“I managed the construction of that building,” Mrs. Wetzel said. “I was involved in every meeting that had to do with building the building.”
Making it to as many of her sons’ games as she could while managing this construction was a balancing act in itself.
Keenan, the middle son, is a red-shirt senior playing at Michigan State University. After attending his first year of college at Valparaiso University, he transferred to MSU and became a walk-on player on the varsity basketball team.
“I loved Valpo. I loved the people there and made some really good friends there. But I grew up a Michigan State fan, I am obviously from Michigan, and have always wanted to play basketball at the highest level I could,” Keenan said. 
“So when I was presented with the chance to do so, it was too good to pass up.”
After three years of competing for his spot on the team, Keenan was finally rewarded this year with a scholarship.
“My experience at MSU has been a very quick and memorable one. It feels like just yesterday I was invited to be on the team. The scholarship was always a goal of mine and to reach that goal in my last year was amazing,” he said.

The Wetzel family, from left: Suzanne, Keenan, Torin, Blaine and Bob Wetzel.

Though basketball is an immense part of Keenan’s life, his real passion is in the film industry. For the past year he has been working tirelessly on writing, producing, and directing his own film, “The Cager,” which stars former MSU basketball player, Delvon Roe.
This is the story of a young man who played at the collegiate level and had his basketball career cut short by injury. This movie tells the story of his life after basketball and his adjustment to this change in his life.
“For the inspiration, it was a life full of basketball experiences and human experience I tried to write into one short film. It was not based on one person’s life, but rather people in general that struggle with life changing ways,” Keenan said.
Keenan has had the opportunity to play with some very talented Michigan State teams over the past few years. The team has played in the NCAA tournament all three years. Mr. and Mrs. Wetzel were able to travel to these games, which were played all over the country.
“In the NCAA tournament, they played in Madison Square Garden, so it fulfilled one of my dreams: going to the mecca of basketball,” Mr. Wetzel said.
Torin, the youngest of the three brothers, began his college career spending his first two years as a member of the basketball team at West Liberty University while studying journalism.
Keeping with the family tradition, this year Torin made the decision to transfer to Ashland University in Ohio. 
“My transfer was mostly based on me wanting to be closer to home and more involved with my family.  They just get to be more involved in my life now and vice versa,” Torin said.
To add to this major change in his life Torin made a tough decision, like many college students do, and changed his major. Many students go into college thinking they have an idea of what they want to do for the rest of their life but do not realize just what that career entails. 
“I made the change because after a full year of journalism courses, I felt as though I was still missing something and didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would,” he said.
“Exercise science has been a field that I’ve always been interested in. I’ve been through a lot physically in terms of injuries and other things and that really started my interest in the field.” 
Torin may be a basketball player at heart, but he knows that the real world does not always cater to every athlete’s dream. A future outside of basketball is what lies in wait for Torin, but playing the sport he loves has already given him so much more.
“Hard work is a great trait I’ve learned from basketball and it just speaks for itself. 
“I’ve learned to push myself past my comfort zone to be the best I can be and I think that’s a great life trait,” Torin said.
Both Torin and Keenan see their futures outside of the game of basketball just like they always have. With two of her sons having already graduated, Mrs. Wetzel knows the importance of a degree. But with Blaine, the oldest brother, and Keenan having already graduated they did not understand why their parents would be so ecstatic around the time of graduation.
“They both were just like ‘Well we always knew we were going to graduate from college, there wasn’t a way that we couldn’t graduate from college,’ ” Mrs. Wetzel said.
Basketball has been a lifelong journey for both Torin and Keenan. The lessons they have learned will carry on in so many other aspects of life. But they both know that basketball is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
“Basketball doesn’t define Keenan or Torin. It is something that they have a gift for and are very good at. They have also dedicated a lot of time, and effort, blood, sweat, and tears,” Mrs. Wetzel said. 
“But they are both very clear about the person they are, what their career goals are, and I am really proud of them for that.”