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JUNE 5, 2003 

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - Extensions of Remarks



Mr.  MCINNIS. Mr.  Speaker,  I  have the distinct  privilege  today  to  pay tribute  to  an extraordinary individual who is a regular visitor to my district. Mark Wetzel, a hitting coach from Omaha,  Nebraska,  travels  to  Western  Colorado several times a year to work with the baseball  team  at  Delta  High School.  He has done so for  the  past four  years, and the results  have  been  Impressive.  The  Delta  Panthers have raised the team batting average to .424,  ranking in the top five In Colorado. Five players are hitting above .500,  and confidence is high across the line up.

Although  Mark has played an important role in  the  team's  success,  he  hasn't  played the game since the age of 14.  Disease forced him to quit playing, and for years Mark thought he didn't have anything to offer. When his son started   playing  the  game,   Mark  eventually tried to impact his son's performance, and the results were readily apparent. That led to Mark helping the rest of the team, and before long word got out around Omaha about this hitting coach who could help improve performance when other coaches could not. Players he had never  met,  including  some  minor  leaguers, began seeking out Mark for advice. Soon he was  trading  hitting philosophies with  baseball legend  Tony Gwynn and hitting coaches from the San Diego Padres.

What is so unique about Mark as a coach? Players and coaches say he has the ability to see  things  other  coaches  miss.  One  coach says that while he will concentrate on a problem  and not find the cause, Mark will look  at the end result and Identify what is wrong.

Mark's ability to see things other coaches cannot is not the most unique thing about him, however. Mark is almost completely blind. The disease that caused him to quit playing  base• ball as a teenager  also took away his vision. Yet he will tell you that losing his sight Is  the best thing that ever happened to him, because it taught him how to outwork others, stay positive, and be tenacious.  It  also has made him an inspiration to others, Including the baseball team at Delta High School. Mr.  Speaker,  it  is  my  pleasure  to  honor Mark Wetzel today by telling his amazing story to this Congress. He is a true asset to the Panthers  baseball  team,  and  I     congratulate him on his success, commend him for his Inspiring  example,  and  thank  him  for  his contribution to the youth of Delta, Colorado.