Video Transcript Below
Welcome back here on Bethel University men’s basketball media day. I have been blessed beyond words to be able to meet a lot of great student athletes, coaches. And it all goes back to the beginning days when coach Mike Lightfoot asked me to join to be a part of this institution. Special thanks to Coach Lightfoot and Coach Natalie through the many, many years of being a part of here. And of course, this past year I was inducted along with my wife Tonya into the Bethel Hall of Fame.
And one of the things that we’ve been blessed to do is get to know student athletes, watch them grow up, watch them be impactful in the world, not only in their job, but also impactful in the kingdom, and do things for the glory of Christ. And one of those guys is my friend right here. Glad to have him back here. Home, if you will, is Caleb Oetjen Knight, 2017 grad of Bethel University. It was Bethel College back in those days. If you remember those days that made himself a great player, had to play behind the legendary Matt Giles. By the time he got to be a senior was the most dominant player in the crossroads like player of the year.
Now you’re back home. You’ve bounced around from going overseas to play professional basketball. You were in Mount Vernon for a couple of seasons doing some grad work. Last year you were in Arizona and now you’re back home in Indiana. That’s got a nice ring to it back home again in Indiana. It does. Welcome home, but thank you.
Assistant Coach Caleb Oetjen
It’s good to be here. I appreciate you saying some nice things about me. I think as I’ve been around young men for three or four years now on the coaching side of things, you really have a good appreciation for having godly men in your life. And I’ve been fortunate to, you know, have a good dad and and Coach Lightfoot and Coach Natalie and you’re one of them as well. And I feel very thankful to have been around you as a player. And like you said, I’m back home and excited to get to work.
What was it like when you sat down and you realized that, hey, listen, I’m going to put on that beautiful gear again, but I’m going to do it in a different mindset. Because one thing is, when you’re competing for a spot, competing to play that you have that and that competitive nature. But you also coming in as a coach, that competitive nature is changed in a wide variety of things because you’ve got to be sometimes to be their best friend.
You have to you have to be hard. You’re not you’re not fighting for a playing spot are all. Also, the dynamics are different. So what was it like for Caleb when he walked back in the gymnasium here at the gym and said, I’m home?
Yeah, it’s a great question. First off, I think it does look different, but you’re still competing. You know, I don’t go out there and and put my body through the same things that I used to. But, you know, you have to sacrifice certain things as a coach as well. And you’re competing to be one of the best teams in the Crossroads League, which is a fantastic conference, probably the best conference in the country. And, you know, when I first walked in here, I think I’m still adjusting to what does it feel like? You know, the the feelings are still setting in that I get to coach this team in a month when we have three weeks, when we have our first practice. So the adjustment is still going on.
I’m just really thankful to be back home where I played a school and really specifically people that I got to know, relationships that I got to build while I was here and humbled to be in a position where maybe I can make an impact on the sidelines, you know, in a different light than when I was a player.
You know, and things are different now. This time around because you’re married, got kids. So the dynamics are different. It’s not about scoring 100 points as you did in your college career. Now it’s about helping others to try to score 1200 career points or whatever the case may be. So you understand what they’re going through and you’re not too far removed from remembering what it was like to have two to play. And one of the things that I look back on that Ryan Lightfoot did a tremendous job is in help teach the game of basketball, the physical aspect of the game of basketball that he was a great individual. He helped develop you as a player. Now you’re taking on that same type of role that you learned from Ryan when Ryan was an assistant coach?
Yeah, no, Ryan did a lot for me when I was a player. A ton from a player development standpoint, from a mental standpoint. The last year when I was down in Phenix at Arizona, Christian, he was at Grand Canyon, and so we spent a lot of time together. You know, he would come over to my place, I would go to his place and we would just talk life and in basketball. And he’s more or less a big brother to me and very thankful for the impact, the impact that he had on my life. But you you know, you allude to making a difference in these kids lives and and being a dad as well. There are certain things that these the young men that we get to impact must know.
They must know how to compete. They must know how to overcome hard things in their life because as coaches, we’re not just coaching the game of basketball, we’re coaching young men as well and hoping to prepare them to be future husbands, to be future fathers. My wife is due with our second and in the next two weeks she’s 38 weeks.
And so how do you how do you walk through those things as a godly man?
The landscape of this roster, a lot of new faces. Yeah. So chemistry is going to be pivotal. You got to leave your ego at the door when you walk in the gymnasium, but you also have to have that ego to the point where I want the ball, you want that. You want a whole bunch of guys who want the ball, but you also have those guys who are willing to do whatever it takes, whether he’s the number 12 guy on on the roster or if he’s the guy who’s coming in who’s averaging 20 points a game, maybe if that is the case.
So talk about juggling all the different different mindsets as well as the different personalities that you’ve met so far.
Sure. I’m enjoying getting to know the guys we have. I think we have a special group with a number of different personalities. Obviously, we have guys from all places.
Of the globe and the beautiful thing about college sports, college basketball is that each team is different. When I was a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, each team I was a part of was extremely different. And that process of maturing and coming together as a unit takes time and our hope as a staff and our prayer is that we look you know, we look different in a week from now and in a month from now.
And obviously, we’re trending in the right direction as we continue to get to know one another and grow closer to each other, push each other. We you talk about roles being defined. You know the differences. You know, Jay, Billy’s being a star in your role. Each role is different and each piece looks different. And it’s a biblical term, too, you know, and you talk about the body of Christ and how you have fingers and toes and arms and eyes and ears.
And I think at the end of the day, you want guys and we want to help these guys grow to a spot where they love each other and they’re willing to fight like crazy for each other to win and to compete.
One of the great links to the past is join the staff this year. And the pilots are going to, I think, are going to be formidable under his orders. Player development, Caleb Ocean, our special guest. Once again, don’t forget, Bethel University men’s basketball all season long and regional radio sports for Caleb Oetjan. For all of us here at Media Day, I’m Paul Condry.
God bless you all. Semper Fi, Ellis. Good day, everyone.