Camas' Jake Hansel: A Papermaker difference maker - KPTV - FOX 12

Camas' Jake Hansel: A Papermaker difference maker

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CAMAS, WA (KPTV) -

Camas High School senior Jake Hansel was an all-league point guard who led the Papermakers to their first state tournament run in some 50 years. 

Then he was yanked from the lineup – not by his coach but by his doctor when life became bigger than basketball.

While his heart keeps him out of the game, his heart also keeps him in the game. 

Senior Night in the Warehouse of Camas High School was a whole lot different than Hansel had ever imagined. 

"He's stood for everything that we want our program to be," said coach Skyler Gillispie. 

On the varsity squad since freshman year, the Papermakers' starting point guard never got to suit up in his final season. 

"It was just one of those moments when you don't know what to do," Hansel said. "I didn't know where to lean back on because when I get stressed out, I go play basketball."

The 18-year-old was benched by multiple cardiologists and surgeons at OHSU in March. 

"She [Hansel's cardiologist] met with a team of nine doctors and every single one said it was HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy," said Hansel. "It's in the apex which is the lower part of the heart, so they said it wasn't safe to keep playing at that point."

Hansel's condition causes an enlarged heart muscle and will continue to be tested annually for the rest of his adult life.

"You hear stories of kids that just pass out on the court and can't be resuscitated because they have a sudden cardiac arrest and we figured it wouldn't be worth the risk," he said. "Later in life my heart probably would have been weaker than the average person's heart."

HCM took Hansel out of the game, but his heart, mind, body and soul haven't been far from hoops. 

"It was just weird not being able to have the ball in my hand and doing it at the same time," he said. "It was kind of a step back, a step removed."

Calling himself the "coach's link," the Papermakers' floor general is helping call the shots next to the same coach he's had since the sixth grade, 28-year-old Gillispie. 

"It was his identity," Gillispie said. "He's a gym shorts and sneakers kind of kid. He just plays basketball all the time. To see that taken away, it hurt, because it wasn't fair … The silver lining is, he is still here. Basketball needs Jake more than Jake needs basketball."

Once the heartbeat of the team, Hansel still has the pulse of the locker room. 

"They might listen to me more than coach," Hansel said. 

Gillispie said, "He has great insight to things we don't see … He has a really good temperature for the guys and a gauge for what's going on that sometimes we overlook when we are looking at the x's and o's."

While Hansel carries a clipboard, he also carries a 3.99 GPA into college, likely at the University of Washington to pursue a degree in engineering. 

He's sharp, and he's selfless, making his senior project one that gives back – raising nearly $10,000 to bring awareness and research for HCM.

"People with HCM can live just as long as people without it. They just have to be more careful about what they do," Hansel said. 

Gillispie said, "His basketball career probably couldn't have transcended, but his ability to be a role model will."
                
Hansel and Camas will host HCM Awareness Night for the Papermakers' home finale this Wednesday against league rival Skyview. 

But it's nothing but love with the Storm. They are combining forces to sell t-shirts in school colors from both sides of the gym that will benefit OHSU's Knight Cardiovascular Institute.

You can help donate by clicking here.

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