Many Wisconsin fans remember former Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz for two things: his red hairdo, and his tenacious effort on the basketball court. The verbally and physically-agile player competed in 131 career games (79 starts) and ranks eighth on Wisconsin's all-time offensive rebounds list.
After graduating from UW following the 2012-2013 season, Bruesewitz played abroad in Israel for the past nine months. Now back stateside, he hopes to teach young kids the right way of learning the game of basketball to help reach their full potential with his first set of basketball camps.
The first Mike Bruesewitz Basketball Camp concluded last week up in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, and the inaugural camp in Wisconsin will be held August 5-7 at the Sports Enhancement Academy in Verona, just southwest of Madison.
For Bruesewitz, the catalyst to take on an undertaking like this came from his time overseas. In a professional basketball setting where college courses and tutors don't dictate your daily schedule, post-practice downtime allowed him the chance to read but also brainstorm some projects to work on when he returned home.
With the lack of former Wisconsin players holding camps in the Madison area, Bruesewitz wanted to give back to the community the knowledge he's gained during his collegiate and professional career.
"I gave myself a couple of projects," Bruesewitz said, "and a basketball camp just seemed like one that would make sense."
Bruesewitz, whose voice was coarse last week from conducting drills and yelling instructions on the court, wants to teach young athletes a different way to approach the game while helping parents raise their children to reach their fullest potential.
He's come to appreciate process-based learning (PBL), in which students learn through problem solving that's facilitated. Bruesewitz believes PBL allows one to fall in love with the process and not worry about the results until later.
Bruesewitz feels Americans in general have increased the necessity for winning at earlier and earlier ages, which he feels is not a good trend. He wants to teach the kids at his camp at a young age -- who range from grades 1-8 -- to play basketball the right way while instilling good work ethic and having fun playing the game.
"If you have a great experience when you're young," Bruesewitz said, "a lot of times you have a great experience throughout the rest of your life."
Along with having a set of current and former professional basketball players joining in as part of the coaching staff for his Madison camps -- including a familiar face in Charlie Wills, who played on Wisconsin's Final Four squad in 2000, possibly coming to instruct as well -- a unique aspect revolves around his "Parents Success Seminar."
The half-hour sessions are inspired by Bruesewitz's father, Rob, and the way he brought up his son. Mike appreciated his upbringing, in what he describes as a "shotgun" approach of trying to make a few interests stick and see what Mike enjoyed.
Mike also agreed with his father's philosophy that basketball is not going to be a profession for many, but it can be used as a tool to create more opportunities of oneself. Rob will be at the camp, answering parents' questions on how to nurture their child in helping to reach their full potential both on and off the court, along with showing them simple drills that can be performed at home.
Bruesewitz himself has grown since his times in Madison. Last season, he played for Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israeli Winners League. He chronicled his time overseas on Fox Sports Wisconsin's "Imported Bru" column earlier this year.
It's been a mix of amazing experiences and humbling circumstances for the 6'6 forward. Bruesewitz enjoyed the cultural experience in Israel, the food and the very friendly people he met that invited him into their homes and took care of him.
"People are, like, the nicest, fastest-moving jerks you've ever met. You know what, they're like warmer versions of New Yorkers, is what they are," Bruesewitz said.
Basketball-wise, it was a struggle for a player who never really sat on the bench during his playing career. Dealing with contractual issues and playing on a team full of talent, it was difficult to find time on the court in a competitive manner.
Along with learning patience for playing time, he also had to adjust to the professional game and the pace of the 24-second shot clock, as well as treating basketball as a profession -- a lesson many former collegiate student-athletes learn quickly.
Though it all, Bruesewitz found time to take care of himself, partaking in yoga, adhering to a regiment of cardio and shooting, and eating healthy.
"Basketball becomes your job, and you become very consistent at what you're doing," he said.
Bruesewitz cherished his time in Israel during his first professional basketball season. He's been home for nearly three weeks now but knows how the experience has changed him as he gears up for his second set of camps next month.
"The more I get away from being overseas, the more I realized how much I really enjoyed it, how special the place I really was in."