We sit down with Brendan Westendorf from the men’s basketball team to ask him about his experience playing the sport and his plans for the future.
Brendan Westendorf, No. 0.
What does basketball mean in your family?
BW: It’s one of those sports that everyone does, so it’s kind of like life, I guess you can say. Either you play basketball and it’s your main sport, or you played it at some point. My dad, my mom, my sister. My brother played when he was little. My grandparents—my grandpa played. And me. Everybody played.
So, your dad taught you?
BW: Well, when I was younger I always wanted to play because I knew that they played. So it was like, “Dad, can you teach me?” Then he’d play me. Obviously we had the small Fisher Price hoops, so I was running around my living room and played on that until I was able to dunk, and then they moved me to a real basket.
Is there any basketball player or team that you look up to?
BW: When I was younger I definitely looked up to LeBron James. I remember in third or fourth grade I was at a tournament in Portland and saw LeBron’s high school team play. I was like “the dude’s cool, I want to be like him,” cause he was super good, obviously, and he just made it look super easy. I didn’t realize who he was; at the time I was just like, “Oh he’s just a random high school kid I want to play like.” And then he got drafted and I was like, “oh, wait that’s the same guy.” That was cool. Over time he’s always been one of my favorites. Now I like Russell Westbrook and just how amped up he is all the time. It’s very opposite of myself because I’m just kind of laid back. I want to get like that guy and I want be able to do what LeBron and everyone [in the NBA] does.
What has been one of your biggest challenges?
BW: My biggest challenge was just getting here in the first place. In high school I had a hard time playing and getting out of the shadow of people that I was playing with. I went to prep school and that kind of let me break away from that and allowed me to evolve and grow up a bit. This was always something I wanted and I had to figure out how to get here. I never did it the easy way, like never did it the easy way, so just getting here in general was the toughest part.
It’s your final year, what are some things you’re going to miss?
BW: I’m definitely going to miss my teammates first, and my coaches, and just the daily grind of having to get up, come to the gym three times in a day, or traveling, even though that’s really rough. I’m going to miss everything about the whole process and everything that we do. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. You don’t get the same type of vibes or friendships out of something else. This is something you have to hold onto for as long as you can, and knowing that it’s my last time around is kind of hard. But at the same time, I’m trying to make the best of it.
If you can do it all again, is there anything you’d do differently?
BW: I definitely wouldn’t mess around in the classroom. That’s what made it so hard to get here in the first place, so if I had another four years to do it all over again or stop my younger self before having to go through that long road, I would definitely say, get in the classroom and take it serious.
What are your plans post-grad?
BW: I’m taking it one day at a time. Try to enjoy this first and then worry about whatever comes for me next. There may opportunities to play overseas maybe. It’s more one day at a time and get things done here because I want to help my team first versus worrying about what I want to do next. If I do what I’m supposed to do now then everything in the future will be taken care of, so I just don’t really worry about it too much.
Anything you want to say about your fans?
BW: I appreciate everything they’ve done over the course of all this because they’re what make it enjoyable. You come out and see them screaming and hollering or they see you somewhere and say, “oh you play for Seattle,” and “Oh you did good last night.” You just bring joy to other people and now they remember you for that. That makes me feel better about what I do. I’m doing this for myself, my team, and everybody that’s [out] there.
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