For The Stettler Independent
The 21st year of Camp Teckla Memorial Basketball took place from July 3 to 6 at the Stettler Elementary School gymnasium.
In the midst of warm-up activities, it was easy to hear one of the coaches instructing the group, “Cross the gym only if you’ve been coming to Camp Teckla for at least five years.” That was followed by a wave of grinning and whooping players. who dribbled across the gym, reflecting on their past summers they had spent sweating and sprinting in the gym.
The majority of the group of Grade 8 and 9 campers crossed over, while the rest – new to Camp Teckla and it’s 21-year legacy – awaited further instructions from their coaches.
Camp Teckla began in 1997 after 16-year-old Teckla Anderson tragically died as a result of a car accident on her way to basketball practice. Grandparents Dorothy and Stan Anderson and coach Kim Poapst began the camp as a way to honour her spirit and dedication to the sport. Rather than sending one player to a camp with a memorial scholarship, they decided to build up a community of basketball players to improve their skills and fill the gyms with laughter as Teckla so often did.
This year, Leighann Doan Reimer and Julie Siemens took on the leadership of the camp. Both high school teammates of Teckla, Reimer and Siemens are committed to continuing on the camp with the same community focus, while integrating more knowledge from national level coaching programs.
“The excitement and enthusiasm from our coaches and campers was a fun to be a part of,” said Siemens.
This year the four-day camp saw 156 participants, numbers consistent with previous years, under the coaching expertise of Doan Reimer, brother Brook Doan, longtime favourites Chris McElroy and Chris Matts, as well as Joey and Kaitlin Poapst. Junior coaches Sydney Poapst, Brooklyn and Logan Perry, and Tiana and Kiara Gamroth assisted with younger age groups and participated in afternoon sessions.
“We had a few kids apprehensive about going the first day, who ended up having a great time and really getting out of their comfort zone,” said Kim Poapst, main organizer and coach, who stepped back this year, but was there hands-on to support Siemens and Doan Reimer as they transition into leadership roles.
“Doan is always pushing us to become better coaches,” Poapst added. “She has added to our skill set by bringing home what she has learned from coaches of the national program, which will hopefully create more competitive basketball players in central Alberta.”