Jack and Martha Whetsel of Georgetown, Texas, made the lead gift for the basketball program's new practice facility, 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 and realized he needed to take some time away from school, he fell in love with Baylor, his father said. "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. "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 10."
He was stationed at Fort Hood, and as company commander, received many awards. He was sent to Vietnam and lost his life there at the age of 22.
His parents, however, want to ensure that Jack Jr. will 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 provide players year-round court time. 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, an advanced strength and conditioning center, office suites for the men's and women's coaching staffs and a VIP Suite to honor Baylor basketball supporters.
The Whetsels chose the facility as a way to honor their son because they enjoy basketball and want to support a program 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 company in recognition of the deep respect its members had for him. "He was so proud of that," Martha said.
áConstruction on the new facility began in October, with expected completion Aug. 1. Financial support still is needed, and naming opportunities are available. -- Media Relations
For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/bballfacility
or contact Cathy Pleitz at 1-800-BAYLOR-U, option 4.