When Two Rivers girls basketball coach Mike Schultz calls out the last name Walesh during a practice or a game, he’s going to get the direct attention of nearly 25 percent of his roster.
That’s because the Raiders feature four players with the Walesh surname, who all happen to be a year apart in age. Freshman Alexi is the youngest, followed by her sister Bailee (sophomore) and cousins Mackenzie (junior) and Jordan (senior).
They’re simply following a family tradition at Two Rivers, where all three fathers graduated from in a five-year span. Alexi and Bailee’s father, Bob Walesh, is the youngest of the three having graduated in 1985. He was preceded by Jordan’s father, Phil (Class of 1984) and Mackenzie’s dad, Lance (Class of 1981).
Schultz, a Two Rivers graduate himself, doesn’t regard the stroke of timing as anything more than a coincidence since he’s known the family since they were in high school themselves.
“I really don’t see it as too big of a deal,” Schultz said. ” To me they’re just the Walesh’s. I’ve know all the kids since before they started kindergarten.”
The Walesh foursome agree with their coach that when they’re in the heat of the game they really don’t notice. But when they take the time to step back, they understand the uniqueness of the situation.
“It’s just a rare to have four relations on the same team,” Bailee said. “This doesn’t happen for (Two Rivers) or anyone for that matter.”
Mackenzie she said having four Walesh’s playing together is something they’ll be able to remember forever. She addressed how the possibility of the foursome playing on the same team has been something they’ve thought about since they were little kids.
“We know we’d be freshman through seniors but there were so many different things that had to happen,” Mackenzie said. “Jordan didn’t play her sophomore or junior years and we weren’t sure if Alexi and Bailee would be brought up since they were underclassmen. We’ll be able to look back on this and realize it was something special.”
Jordan said one reason she came back for her senior season was the opportunity to play with her family.
“It’s just exciting,” Jordan said. “If I had not played and missed this opportunity I knew I’d regret it.”
All four took the court at the same time during the Raiders’ 50-33 home victory over New Holstein in late January, which brought an eruption from the Walesh-dominated home section.
“They all have different strengths,” Schultz added. “They each bring something to the team.”
Mackenzie and Alexi are first and second on the team in points and rebounds, respectively, with each averaging at least 11 points and nearly seven boards a game. Bailee and Jordan meanwhile are two of the better defenders on the team, with Jordan using what her cousins refer to as her noodle arms to grab rebounds. Bailee uses her strength to get around inside near the basket.
Even the Two Rivers announcer has gotten them mixed up at times when they’re in the game.
“One time I scored a basket and they said ‘And another basket by Alexi Walesh’ and all I could think was I’m Kenzie not Alexi!” Mackenzie remembered.
Even though Jordan will be graduating this May and they’re used to seeing each other at practice, none of them are too concerned about losing touch.
“Jordan will come to our games when she visits and half the stands will be the Walesh family and when I leave I’m sure I’ll come and watch,” Mackenzie added.
Their teammates aren’t concerned about the attention the Walesh’s get from the stands, knowing the last name on the back of their jersey isn’t as important as ‘Two Rivers’ on the front.
“When one of us gets brought into the game I don’t say my family member is in the game, I say my teammate is in the game,” Bailee added.
“Our team is so close it’s like we’re all related out there, our team is one family on the court,” Mackenzie said.