Fulda’s Appel signs with DWU: Appel will take his passion for basketball to Dakota Wesleyan UniversityFULDA — The difference between a player who plays a sport for enjoyment and a player who is truly in love with a sport is the memory. The player who enjoys a sport will replay the glory days, but a player who has a passion for a sport remembers every detail of every game and tends to relive the games which got away. Fulda’s Matt Appel has a passion for basketball.
FULDA — The difference between a player who plays a sport for enjoyment and a player who is truly in love with a sport is the memory. The player who enjoys a sport will replay the glory days, but a player who has a passion for a sport remembers every detail of every game and tends to relive the games which got away.
Fulda’s Matt Appel has a passion for basketball.
“I remember my first game (in third grade), which was close to the first time I picked up a basketball,” Appel said. “Worthington beat us by like 40, but it made me want to get better and keep going at it.
“Ever since then I’ve enjoyed basketball and kept working at it to get better.”
Appel will take his passion to Dakota Wesleyan University, as the Raider forward signed with DWU to play basketball Wednesday.
“They had what I wanted for schooling and athletics,” Appel said. “I liked the coach, the system and all that stuff.
“I was looking at a few other schools, but I thought this was the best fit for me in what I wanted to do.”
Appel helped lead Fulda to a 20-8 record this season, as the Raiders tied for second place in the Red Rock Conference.
Appel averaged 16.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, finishing his three years on varsity with 1,081 points and 554 rebounds, while playing in all 79 of Fulda’s games over the past three seasons.
Fulda coach Colby Pack took over as Raiders’ head coach in Appel’s first year on varsity. Few people know Appel’s growth as well as Pack.
“Matt was a tireless worker, who put hours into the gym to better himself as a player,” Pack said. “He just knows the game of basketball and was a learner of the game, as he got older.
“He was always the first one in the gym. You can tell he’s really taken those things we’ve worked on to become a better player.”
It’s easy for an athlete to tune out the criticism of their game from outside sources and blindly believe faults will take care of themselves. Appel embraced the critique.
“He’s one of those kids that if you tell him something, he’s going to work at it and not think of it as a negative,” Pack said. “It’s not like he’s stubborn and takes it with a grain of salt.
“He knows what he needs to do. I’m sure he’s mentioned defense.”
After working and growing together as newcomers to Fuldas’ varisty squad for three years, Pack and Appel were on the same page.
On a day in which the spotlight was on Appel, a pen, a piece of paper and a future, the 6-foot-3 forward, who could step out beyond the arc and bury a 3-pointer, was shining the light on what he needed to work on rather than his abilities.
“I need to improve my defense,” Appel said. “I’m going to work really hard to improve my strength and speed this summer.
“If I work hard enough on it, I can become a lockdown defender.”
Pack admits splitting up with Appel and the group he started with is tough, but he’s happy to see Appel keep playing basketball.
“He was part of my first varsity group, so he’s part of the group I started with,” Pack said. “It was tough to end our season, losing our top six players for next season.
“It is bittersweet, but it’s also rewarding to see the work we did as a team pay off for Matt. He’s doing something not a lot of people can say they had the chance the do. It’s been a pleasure to coach Matt. Obviously, we’ll miss him, but it’s been rewarding.”
Like any athlete, or person in general, Appel is willing to sacrifice to pursue his passion.
“It’s always been my goal, since I was little, to play college sports,” Appel said. “I’m sad I’m leaving behind all my friends, but you have to move on.
“I love basketball. I love the crowd, the energy and the gym, the pregame jitters and basically everything about it.”
Daily Globe Sports Editor Chris Murphy can be reached at 376-7328.