A heart to help others

Hansel stays in the game by coaching

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Jake Hansel (center) stands with friends Tanner Fogle and Alex Glikbarg after a basketball game, at Camas High School. Hansel is working on a fundraiser to raise awareness for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that forced him to give up basketball before his senior year of high school. (Photo courtesy of Kris Cavin)

Hypertonic cardiomyopathy prevents Jake Hansel from dribbling down the court as fast as he can to score a basket.

He doesn’t want that to happen to any one else. Or for the symptoms to go unnoticed and have a player suffer a heart attack during the game.

“Athletes around here have died from this,” Hansel said. “It’s a scary thing for parents and kids, especially when they don’t show any symptoms of it.”

Hansel made the Camas High School varsity team as a freshman. During his sophomore year, he helped the Papermakers reach the state tournament for the first time in 51 years.

Before his junior year, he went in for a routine EKG because of a history of heart problems in his family. The results were abnormal.

Hansel was told it could be “athlete’s heart,” due to over-exercise, or it could be HCM.

After a few more tests, he was cleared.

Hansel played through his junior season without any setbacks.

He went for another screening after the season, and a team of nine doctors agreed that he had HCM.

“I couldn’t play basketball any more,” Hansel said. “The health risk was too high, and could lead to sudden cardiac death.”

After his favorite thing in life had been taken away, Hansel turned to his family, coaches and teammates for support.

“It was really frustrating,” he said. “Basketball has been a part of my life forever. It’s one of those things I could just go to, clear my mind and just go play.

“What’s worth more, four years of college basketball or my life? My life is more important. I can still coach. I can still be involved.”

With the support from his hometown, Hansel has tackled HCM head-on.

He has already raised close to $8,000, which will be donated to OSHU for researching the disease. His goal is to raise $10,000.

Wednesday, Feb. 1, will be HCM Awareness Night at Camas High School. The event starts at 6 p.m., when the Papermakers tip off against Skyview.

There will be a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. Wristbands, water bottles and t-shirts will also be on sale.

To donate to Hansel’s cause, visit

“Adversity is not what defines you in life, it’s how you react to that adversity,” Hansel said. “That’s why I decided to do this fundraiser, to tackle it head-on. I figured it would be a good way to get over it for me.”

Head coach Skyler Gillispie is not surprised by Hansel’s willingness to make a difference off the court. He hopes this fundraiser helps Hansel achieve his goal of saving lives.

“This might be his last home game ever at Camas, so it’s just a nice send off for him,” Gillispie said. “I think Jake deserves it. He’s such a selfless kid and he doesn’t want any attention. It’s OK for him to have that one night.”