Model High School senior Bassel Khateeb is guided by faith, family and football.
He is just one of 14 Model Blue Devil seniors stepping up into new leadership roles as the 2021 season arrives.
But before the game kicks off on Friday night, Khateeb has some important duties to attend to first.
Khateeb is Muslim, and as the holy day of Islam is Friday, Khateeb ensures he fulfills Salah, or the tenant of praying five times per day. He also goes to mosque on Friday for prayers when able to.
“I was born Muslim,” Khateeb said. “My mom, she was born in Jerusalem. My dad was born in Chicago. My grandparents, they’re really into the religion and I’m really into this religion.”
Khateeb first got into the sport of football when a middle school coach approached him about trying out for the team. At the time, he was playing soccer.
“I wasn’t used to football; I played soccer all the time,” Khateeb said. “I went out there, only one with the small soccer cleats. I loved the sport. Got to high school, loved it (and) continued it.”
Khateeb plays on the defensive and offensive lines, specifically at nose guard and center. He credits working out almost every day as helping him get stronger, and is poised for a leadership role both on the front lines and in the locker room.
“Of the one kid I can say has really shown strides as becoming a ... vocal leader is Bassel,” Blue Devils head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said. “Bassel will challenge a lot of those offensive lineman and will get in the ear of them, and that’s what we’ve got to have. We’ve got to have that bell cowl up front there that, from the verbal aspect, is able to replace some of the things ... and carry over from the Sam Silver’s of the world.”
During the fall, Khateeb said he’s found a way to pray on gameday.
“School times whenever I’m not able to go (to the mosque), during the season, I would go step into the locker room, pray, ... then I’ll go and continue the rest of the day,” Khateeb said. “Usually, (prayer time) is right before the game or right after.”
Another core belief of Islam is the prohibition of the consumption of pork products. On gameday when a pregame meal involves pork products, Hunnicutt and the Model coaching staff ensure there is an acceptable alternative for Khateeb.
“There are certain issues we have to come across whether it be a pregame meal and we’ve got to make sure there’s no pork,” Hunnicutt said. “If there are pork (products), we need to make sure that Bassel’s got Chick-fil-A or Subway ready to go.”
Khateeb said at first, it was difficult to explain to his teammates why he had to refuse pork products, but added after some time, they came to understand the cultural and religious differences.
“After some time, everyone got used to it,” Khateeb said. “They knew ... what can I have (and) what can I not have. Whenever there’s a new kid or a freshman, ... they’ll come ask me and I’ll explain it to them (so) they’ll understand.”
Khateeb owns his own record company called BK Audio (Bassel Khateeb Audio), which might explain Khateeb’s habit of blasting music in the locker room.
“He plays his music way too loud, which I tell him he does,” Hunnicutt said with a chuckle. “He’s a great kid (and) he has a great rapport with our kids and with our staff. He’s just fun to be around.”
When asked about life after high school, Khateeb said he has aspirations of playing football at the next level, but if football is not in the plans, he is looking into engineering.
“I do stuff with cars and automotive mechanics,” Khateeb said. “I’d love to continue with that.”
Model opens its 2021 season on Friday when the Sonoraville Phoenix pay a visit to Woodard-Tuggle Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“If we all work as hard as we can, we can continue this leadership,” Khateeb said. “We will do good this year because of the leadership, make sure everyone’s straight, running the plays, having respect for the coaches.”