Although the Loyola community might only know men’s basketball sophomore guard Paxson Wojcik, he’s by no means the only star player in the Wojcik family.
In the Charleston, S.C. native’s family of four, both he and his brother have played basketball their whole lives, and their parents met while playing collegiate basketball at the United States Naval Academy.
Paxson, 20, said having two former college athletes as parents definitely made him more inclined to become an athlete. He said he played quite a few sports growing up, but his parents’ influence as basketball players brought him to fall in love with the game.
“They never really forced me to play basketball or anything,” he said. “It just kind of naturally happened.”
During his childhood, Paxson’s father, Doug, was a basketball coach, which he said also helped him foster a love for the sport. Whether it was going to practices or other team events with his father, he said he was always around the game.
Paxson’s younger brother and only sibling, Denham, said he felt the same way growing up around basketball, which led to his interest in playing as well.
“My family has just always been involved because of my dad and his profession,” Denham said. “He had been a coach since we were born, so Paxson and I grew up in gyms together.”
When it came time to start looking at colleges to attend, Paxson said having his father as the current director of recruiting at Michigan State University and a former coach helped him feel more comfortable with the process. He said although his parents gave him advice, the final decision was his own call.
Denham, a senior in high school, committed to Harvard University last spring. He said his father was involved in his recruiting process too, which helped it go smoothly considering he knew the ins and outs.
“I feel like it’s less stress on me to know exactly what I want because he has this experience,” Denham, 18, said. “He can kind of see through what’s real and what’s not real at each school, and what’s good and what’s not good.”
Doug said even when his sons were growing up, he chose to never coach them himself but to serve as a consultant for them. He said after their games, they’d only discuss a few key points together.
Doug also came from a family of basketball players, having a brother, Jake, who was a Division I player and head coach, he said. Doug said he credits his own involvement and love of sports to both his own father and him and his brother’s high school basketball coach, Skip Prosser, an eventual Division I coach.
“We were exposed to such great coaching in high school, so he deserves a lot of credit,” Doug said. “I was just really driven to be a Division I basketball player, and that’s what led me to the Naval Academy.”
Doug said he and his wife, Lael, met while playing basketball at the Academy even though they were three years apart. He said her family is also one with multiple athletes, considering her sister also played for the Academy.
After his service in the Navy, Doug started his coaching career as an assistant coach back at the Naval Academy.
He went on to become the head coach of the men’s basketball teams at University of Tulsa and College of Charleston, as well as hold other coaching positions in colleges around the country over the last 20 years before his current role at MSU.
When it comes to basketball’s impact on his family, Paxson said having his whole family involved in the sport has given them a common experience and interest that brings all four of them together.
“Whether that’s just watching the NBA Finals or watching March Madness together or just talking hoops at the dinner table, we all relate and we all share a passion and love for the game,” he said.
Doug said as the family moved around a lot for his job, the four became close, especially around their shared love of basketball. As Paxson began playing and went through the ups and downs, Doug said it was something both parents could understand and relate to.
As a finance major with a minor in sport management, Paxson said although he doesn’t know exactly what he wants to do after college, he’d like to be involved in sports somehow.
“Whether that’s the coaching side or the management side or the business side of sports, I’m not really sure yet,” he said. “But I can definitely say that I want to be involved in some way or another.”