Facilities, personal touch sold Fehr on WSU

By Grant Guggisberg

For Bret Fehr, one visit was all he needed to decide on a college destination.

The senior-to-be at Manhattan High made his commitment to Wichita State to play baseball last week after taking an unofficial campus visit and seeing all the Shockers had to offer him.

Top-notch facilities, a new dormitory for athletes and a personal recruiting touch by new head coach Todd Butler was all it took to make up the mind of Fehr.

“I went down and had a great visit, I got a tour of the whole campus and facilities, and they’re all really nice,” Fehr said. (Butler) made me my offer and I thought about it for a day, but decided to take it. I didn’t want to lose it, so I took it while it was there.”

Butler, who replaced longtime coach Gene Stephenson in June, personally recruited Fehr, coming to see him play at a couple different tournaments this summer before making contact about a visit that would include a scholarship offer.

“I’d been talked to by a couple schools, but not heavily recruited,” Fehr said. “This was my first real visit. All their facilities, their indoor practice facility and their field are three years old, so it’s basically brand new. They’re building a new athletic dorm also, which will be finished by the time I get there as a freshman. I like that — it was very nice.”

Fehr said Butler also outlined a development plan tailored to Fehr’s skillset, which impressed him. 

“What the coach said to me, his philosophy and what he wanted to do with me, he basically had a plan mapped out for me already,” Fehr said. “So I liked that too. He talked about developing me more and advancing my speed of the game, things like that.”

Fehr didn’t go into specifics about what other teams had recruited him, though he did mention Kansas State had interest.

“I would have liked to go to K-State, but they wanted me to walk-on I think,” he said. “It seems like they do that a lot with hometown kids, but I was trying to get a scholarship to play in college, and (Wichita State) gave me the opportunity.”

Fehr, who hits left handed, served as the leadoff hitter for Manhattan High all year and thrived in the role, stealing 17 bases while hitting .385 with four doubles, four triples and two home runs this past spring.

Fehr will get the chance to make the deal official in November, during the first signing period. Butler has big shoes to fill in replacing Stephenson, who was fired in June at the end of his 36th season on the job, a tenure that includes a national championship in 1989 as well as multiple regional, super regional and College World Series appearances. Fehr said the tradition at Wichita State helped put them over the top.

“They have won a national championship, so they’ve been there before and they can do it again,” he said. “So it’s exciting to be going there.”

Manhattan High coach Don Hess said Fehr’s overall athletic ability factored into his recruitment.

“The fact that Bret plays three sports, they were excited about,” Hess said. “Bret is always in shape and he’s a big strong young man that hits from the left side and runs like the wind. The matchup was really easy on both sides and Bret is extremely excited about this next step.”

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