Baylor Announces Lead Gift for Basketball Center

  • News Photo 3140
    Jack and Martha Whetsel
  • News Photo 3139
    Jack Whetsel Jr.
Oct. 7, 2005

Contact: Cathy Pleitz, Campaign Coordinator, (254) 710-2561 or 1-800-BAYLOR-U, option 4

- Construction Set To Begin On Lt. Jack Whetsel Jr. Basketball Practice Facility

Every team needs an assist, and the Baylor University men's and women's basketball teams received a tremendous boost from Jack and Martha Whetsel of Georgetown, Texas. The Whetsels made the lead gift for a new practice facility for the basketball program, which will be named the Lt. Jack Whetsel Jr. Basketball Practice Facility in memory of their son.

Jack and Martha Whetsel both graduated from Baylor and share a deep love for their alma mater. Their son, Jack Jr., attended Baylor briefly. Though he had a rough first year, he fell in love with Baylor as well. He knew he needed to take some time away from school and return when he was ready.

"He loved Baylor and he always knew he would come back and do well," Jack Sr. said.

Jack Jr. enlisted in the military, quickly rising through the ranks. He was accepted to officer's training school at Fort Benning, Ga., despite lacking a college degree. "He was accepted even though most of the officers were college graduates," Jack Sr. said. "He wasn't [a college graduate], but he was smart and he was a leader. So they took him as a candidate and he graduated in the top ten."

He was stationed at Fort Hood and as company commander received many awards. Eventually, he received orders for Vietnam. Tragically, 22-year-old Lt. Jack Whetsel Jr. lost his life in Vietnam and never returned to the university he loved. But Jack and Martha wanted to ensure Jack Jr. would have a legacy at Baylor.

"We wanted something for Jack because he loved this school and he said he was coming back," Jack Sr. said. "So he's coming back to Baylor in this way."

The new practice facility will allow players year-round court time to develop as individuals and as team members, ensuring excellence. It will feature two separate full-size courts arranged side-by-side, a wall-mounted video camera to provide coaches more information to modify instruction, a highly advanced strength and conditioning center, office suites for both the men's and the women's coaching staffs overlooking the practice courts and a VIP Suite to honor Baylor basketball's greatest supporters.

Jack and Martha chose the facility to honor their son because they enjoy basketball and want to give back to a program that they are proud to see rise above challenges.

"I'm proud of the Baylor basketball program, both the men's and women's teams," Jack Sr. said. "I think the women's coach is doing great and the men's coach has a big hill to climb and he's climbing it. Next year, I think they'll show a lot of progress."

The facility also enables Baylor's student-athletes to develop the leadership skills for which Jack Jr. was known. One of the Whetsels' most prized possessions is a military boot presented to their son by his men in recognition of the deep respect they felt for the man who showed them how to lead. "He was so proud of that," Martha said.

Construction on the new facility will begin this month, and the goal is to complete and open the facility by Aug. 1, 2006. Financial support is still needed for those who would like to offer an assist to the Baylor Basketball program that is poised for unprecedented success. Naming opportunities are available and all gifts of $1,000 or more will be listed on a donor wall of honor. For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/bballfacility or contact Cathy Pleitz at 1-800-BAYLOR-U, option 4.

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