How a crazed Shocker basketball fan helped Carl Hall see clearly

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How a crazed Shocker basketball fan helped Carl Hall see clearly

Patty Beamer helped Carl Hall see clearly.

Patty Beamer helped Carl Hall see clearly.

Khánh Nguyễn

Patty Beamer helped Carl Hall see clearly.

Khánh Nguyễn

Khánh Nguyễn

Patty Beamer helped Carl Hall see clearly.

Patty Beamer keeps a signed picture of former Shocker Carl Hall in her office.

Hall, a 6-foot-8 senior on Wichita State’s Final Four team, signed the picture, “ To Patty: Thanks for looking out for me.” Beamer is always looking out for others — and when she set her sights on Hall, she noticed something other’s didn’t. He was struggling to look back.

“He was always squinting,” Beamer said.

Hall was a force. His 6-foot-8, 240-lb body would bully opponents. He was a full embodiment of Gregg Marshall’s “Play Angry” motto — but perhaps too angry. That’s when Beamer took notice. Beamer approached Hall.

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Patty Beamer keeps a signed photo of Carl Hall in her office in Ahlberg Hall. 

“She asked me why I frown and look so angry always,” Hall said. But Hall wasn’t frowning intentionally. It was because he had trouble seeing. Only he hadn’t told anyone just how badly he was struggling.

Beamer went to the team’s optometrist and told him Hall couldn’t see. Hall learned he had Keratoconus, a condition in which the clear tissue on the front of the eye’s cornea bulges outward. The condition typically causes distorted vision. Hall was practically going blind.

Doctor’s had prescribed him a pair of contact lenses, but he was still squinting. He tore one of the lenses and had stopped wearing them. Beamer took matters into her own hands and called the optometrist herself. In a matter of days, she returned with Hall’s recognizable goggles — a staple of his two-year career.

“I thought it was crazy someone thought of that,” Hall said. “It shows the type of person she is.”

Beamer, a resident native of Pratt, has a long history with Wichita State. Her first time at the university was far from traditional. She had a 1.5 G.P.A., and left for the Airforce, where she received the rank of Lieutenant Commander Nurse Corp. She returned after retiring from the Airforce in 2008 in pursuit of her master’s in nursing. Today, she’s a professor in the health professions department of the university.

Her arrival back at the university lined up with the start of Gregg Marshall’s tenure. Back then, she could sit courtside with friends relatively easily. Then, the team started winning — a lot. As the team won, Beamer’s love for the team grew, too. She started to follow the Shockers everywhere. To Hawaii, to Puerto Rico, to Madison Square Garden when Wichita State won the NIT in 2011. She was in Atlanta for the Final Four in 2013, too.

Her office in Ahlberg Hall is decorated in autographed posters, pictures and art. These represent the collection of her favorite moments and times where she experienced joy. But her passion is is often sideled with more than just fan work.

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Patty Beamer has several signed posters and pictures of past Shockers in her office.

It’s the mental aspect of the game she likes the most. She’s often quick to defend social stigmas associated with Division-I athletes. Perceptions that players have it all — money, food, happiness — aren’t always true. Thanks to her close association to the team and its players (and her master’s degree in mental health), she knows this too well.

That’s also what led her to see the mental block senior Markis McDuffie was struggling with last year after returning from a stress fracture that caused him to miss 11 games. He was trying to make up for lost time — playing too hard, and trying to force his game when it just wasn’t working.

“She said I wasn’t looking like myself,” McDuffie said. “She told me to start acting like myself again, (and) when she told me that, it shows you how many people care about you. It really boosted my confidence.”

Why does Beamer stay after games, give up time to never miss a game and dedicate herself to knowing every in and out of the program? Because Wichita State basketball brings her joy. She doesn’t seek out tickets, autographs or pictures (although they happen from time to time), she wants to enjoy the experience of her symbiotic relationship with the team she’s known to love.

“I don’t want anything from them,” Beamer said. “I want my joy, that’s all.”