Since he was in third grade, 19-year-old Brett Wittchow, UW Oshkosh freshman business major, of Rosendale, has arrived at basketball practice to see his grandpa, 80-year-old Don Marschall ’57, watching from the sidelines.
“He’s been at probably all of my practices since third grade, so it wasn’t a big surprise—it was cool seeing him at practice everyday,” Wittchow said of his grandpa coming to UW-Oshkosh Titans men’s basketball practices.
Each day, Marschall sets up his lawn chair at half court to watch the team practice.
“I just like being in the gym and I am smart enough to keep my mouth shut so the coaches let me stay. Sometimes parents get kicked out, but I’m a grandpa,” Marschall said.
Marschall graduated from UW Oshkosh in 1957 with an education major, and was a member of the UW-Oshkosh Titans men’s basketball team (1953-54), played in the pep band and wrote for the student newspaper The Advance, now the Advance-Titan.
“I think the coaches are excellent at how they prepare these guys to play different players,” Marschall said. “I don’t remember it being quite that technical when I was here.”
Sometimes Marschall shows up for practice early and walks around campus visiting buildings to take a stroll down memory lane and reflect on his time as a student at UWO. Although some things have stayed the same, the campus overall has changed dramatically since the 1950s.
“Most of my classes were in Dempsey Hall and to see that pretty much looking the same way just thrills me,” Marschall said. “It’s nice to walk through campus and see Taylor Hall—Hilda Taylor was my teacher—and Kolf Sports Center—Robert Kolf was my coach.”
Marschall said he is happy his grandson chose UWO for his higher education because he knows how much of an impact the institution had on him.
“You come into a school where you don’t know anybody and within a short time you know everybody,” Marschall said. “Being on an athletic team helped Brett and myself get to know more people than just our teammates.”
Wittchow played a big part in the successes of the basketball program during the 2015-2016 season, sharing some of that credit with his grandpa.
The UW-Oshkosh men’s basketball team finished strong last season, securing a bid in the NCAA Division III postseason and winning the WIAC tournament championship.
“I’ve really learned a lot of basketball just watching this year, I don’t know what good it’s going to do me but I sure enjoy it,” Marschall said.