Brett Kasper is the quarterback for the University of Oshkosh. He has accomplished a lot during his time in Oshkosh, both for the football program, and those around him. The Senior quarterback donated bone marrow that helped a ten-year-old girl from Indiana, Phoenix Bridegroom. Phoenix was going through a rare form of leukemia, but the bone marrow donation ridded the cancer.
Brett took the time to talk to me about his charitable work, becoming the first Division III player to be named as Captain on the All-State Good Works Team, and what it takes to be a Division III athlete.
Reido: How’d you get involved with the “Be The Match” Organization?
Brett Kasper: It was through Coach Cerroni, he got contacted by Villanova’s head coach (Andy Talley), and they tried to get their team involved with the registry list, so he asked our head coach if he wanted to get involved. He’s been really pushy ever since, and he got my involved.
Reido: What’s your major?
Brett Kasper: Supply Chain Management
Reido: You were the first Division III player named to the All State Good Works Team as the captain, what’s that mean to you?
Brett Kasper: It means a lot, going into it, I viewed it as being nominated by the team. I never thought I’d actually be selected to be part of the Good Works team. Hearing that I got selected to be part of the team was crazy. Going through the whole captain ship part, where it’s really just people who vote you in. It really goes to show the people who surround me in my life, because they’re the ones who ultimately voted me in. Especially going up against Division 1-A kids, big names like Deshaun Watson. You know, you never think you’re gonna out vote them, I guess. Then the votes came in, and low and behold, I was selected to be captain.
Brett Kasper: It’s good, it definitely has a family feel to it. They’re actually coming up here, pretty soon I think. Just to hang out, and catch up, just like any other family members would do. It’s got a very good comforting feeling; a good family atmosphere feel to it. My mom stays in touch with their family. She had recently just gotten back from Indiana after visiting them, it was the Mother’s, Tammy Bridegroom, birthday. So, they went down to celebrate her birthday, it’s little things like that, that solidify the family feel. Not even just my parents, my relatives, aunts and uncles, girlfriend and her family, are all very involved. It’s a great feeling to have, just an addition supporting cast around.
Reido: How much did you appreciate your teammates getting behind Phoenix?
Brett Kasper: I did a lot, throughout the whole process, leading up to donating, leading up to meeting her, finally meeting her, you get the joke, “is it really real?” “Is the story bigger than what it is because you’re the quarterback?” Friendly jokes like that.
Deep down, they were there in support, and it’s been really influential for the team and on the campus of Oshkosh. I think we have the majority of the team on the registry list, and we’re moving into trying to get a good amount and quality of people from the campus too. Every little bit of support was awesome, it was great to see because they could’ve really not given a darn about it, but that wasn’t the case.
Reido: How’d you get involved with the Special Olympics?
Brett Kasper: That was actually back in high school. I got into that through volunteering opportunities. We’d be asked to referee games for the special Olympic basketball teams. I kinda just stepped back from high school, ever since I’ve just stuck with that.
Reido: You almost won the championship last year, is that the senior year goal?
Brett Kasper: Yeah, that defiantly is. It was good to get a little taste of it this past year, but we want the whole thing. That was the real reason we were down there was to win it all, but obviously, that wasn’t the case. It was still a great feeling to get to that point, as far as anyone’s ever gotten in school history.
Just to get the university there, was a great feeling, and I feel like it’s really raised the level of standard of success for Oshkosh. Even in high school when I was being recruited by Oshkosh, that was kinda their big year, they got to the semifinal in the playoffs, but they ended up losing.
Ever since then, we’ve always related back to the 2012 team, the 2012 team did this and that, and hopefully that’s the key for us. The 2016 team went this far, and did that. Hopefully that can catapult this program to the next level for years to come.
Reido: Do you have any advice for kids considering Division III?
Brett Kasper: You gotta be dedicated, we see a lot of kids come in downplaying the division III role. It’s just D3, kinda not taking it seriously, but those are the kids who end up quitting, because you really do have to love the game. No one’s out here on scholarship, you’re really out here for the love of the game.
At the same time, it’s still competitive. Playing the toughest conference in division e, the WIAC, is a telltale sign of how it can really be, because week in week out, you’re playing great teams. Whitewater, Platteville, Stevens Point, La Crosse, you know top to bottom they are definitely the toughest conference in division 3. You can’t take it lightly, a lot of these kids come in, and they just feel like, “oh It’s division III”, and they can slack off, and they feel like they’re going to start right away. But that’s not the case, especially at Oshkosh. You still have to earn your role on the team, you aren’t going to come in as a freshman. You really have to earn it, it’s not a slack, or a lower tier. It’s still an honor to play division III and college football at any level.
Reido: Do you have any NFL aspirations?
Brett Kasper: I’ve always said, I guess the NFL inspiration is something that I’m not going to dwell on. Obviously, I know that it’s extremely hard to make it to the NFL at any level, but especially coming from the division III level. It’s not something I’m gonna go out and seek, and try to do on my own, but we have had players in the past, even from Oshkosh, that have gotten scouted by NFL teams. Seeing that, has always kept that in the back of my head, there’s always potential to catch somebodies eye. You really gotten keep that focus, because you never know if a scout is watching. If that were the case, where a scout came up to me and said “Hey, we’re kinda interested.” I’d definitely try for it, but like I said, I’m not going to go out of my way and pursue my goals farther. I think at that point, I’d rather just start a career, and try to start making some money.
If you’d like to join the “Be The Match” organization, sign up at their website, here.