"I liked baseball, and it was a great experience for me, but I wanted to get into basketball," said Kettler, who worked for three different major league organizations before taking the head strength and conditioning post at Winthrop. "When I went there, I wanted to immerse myself in it, learn as much as I could, and look for opportunities to move up."
Kettler's range of experience, which included two years at Winthrop, two years as the S&C director with the Kansas City Royals, and stints with the minor league systems of the Cleveland Indians and San Diego Padres, is even more impressive given the fact that he graduated from Ashland College just seven years ago. Add in an intern year at the University of Toledo, and Kettler has the work history of someone much older, and he plans to use all of it in developing his program at WVU.
"I think that everything you do or have done helps," he said of his impressive resume, which included overseeing the entire S&C operations of the major league Royals as well as the minor league system of the Padres. "You can put all that experience to good use. For example, working in the professional ranks had me dealing with guys with $60 million dollar contracts. That let me learn about pros and what they need and how to get results. And then I worked in college, and worked with athletes that are trying to get to that level. We had kids at Winthrop that ended up going overseas to play, so we helped prepare them for that experience too."
Kettler, whose official title is associate director of strength and conditioning for basketball, isn't planning on living in a self-contained world, however. He's already talked and met several times with Mike Joseph, WVU's head S&C coach, and sees a synergy that should develop between them.
"I think Mike does a great job," Kettler noted. "We have already talked a lot, and he has a lot of intelligent and talented guys on his staff. I will bounce ideas off him, and we'll share information and results that should help us all get better."
Kettler won't be starting from scratch or simply copying a football workout, however. With his experience running diversified S&C programs, he has program that he believes will be successful at West Virginia.
"The programs we ran at Winthrop worked," he said confidently. "We had guys getting off the floor higher. Their strength was up. Their injuries were down. I think we will be able to do the same thing here at West Virginia."
Kettler has already begun to assess the players on the team and develop plans for their improvement, and although he didn't discuss individuals or specific plans, he did reveal some of his philosophies and linchpins in his system.
"We know that we have to develop kids each day," he said. "We monitor them daily, and their plans may change frequently. We also have to look at each individual to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and not just on the court. Is the player a leader? What are his physical limitations? Does he push himself, or does he need some extra motivation?
"The philosophy is pretty simple," he continued. "Anything that you attempt to do, do it right. No matter what, you have to train hard and work hard. I want them to know that I will die for them – I'll do everything I can to help them improve. We want to getter better to reach the ultimate goal – a national championship."
Of course, that final goal is one shared by head coach Bob Huggins, who picked Kettler as someone who could help he and his players achieve that goal. Kettler didn't have any firsthand ties with the charismatic coach before coming to WVU, but some indirect ones certainly didn't hurt in the process. Kettler is a friend of Scott Greenawalt, who worked with Kansas State last year and was another potential candidate for the WVU spot. Members of WVU's basketball staff also had ties with counterparts at Winthrop, and were thus able to get on-scene observations and reports on Kettler's talents.
While Kettler played a couple of seasons of football at the University of Cincinnati before transferring to Ashland, he didn't cross paths with Huggins until the interview process.
"Coach Huggins wants to make the team work hard, and that fits in with my style. I have been drawn to basketball, and this is where I want to be. This opportunity gives me a chance to work with two quality coaches in Coach Mike Carey and Coach Huggins. They are two coaches who believe in what I do and who understand the importance of strength and conditioning. West Virginia is a great athletic University, and being here gives me the chance to be closer to my family in Cincinnati too."
Kettler's straightforward manner and methods would seem to fit well with the no-nonsense approaches of Huggins and Carey, who aren't afraid to speak their minds. Describing himself as "a pretty simple person", Kettler said that extends to both his personal and professional life."
"I'm very simple in my expectations," he reaffirmed. "Work hard, train hard, and the improvement will come."