It’s a “mini” program making a major impact.
This spring, the Stettler mini basketball league wrapped up its 15th season of recreational and instructional hoops for elementary school students.
Camp McE — named after former principal Rod McElroy — is a feeder of sorts for Stettler’s middle school and high school basketball teams.
“I hope it helps,” said mini league director Kim Poapst, a physical-education teacher at Stettler Elementary School.
“Because we’ve had quite a few kids that have gone through our program that are now coaching (the mini teams) and playing at the high school level, the sessions benefit them, too. If you’re coaching, then you realize what your coach is trying to tell you, and they’ll go, ‘This kid is not listening to me.’ So they become better listeners to their coaches in high school or middle school. It’s all a good learning process.”
Poapst celebrated her 50th birthday on the final day of the latest mini basketball season. The program included fun games between the kids and their parents — and pizza afterward.
“It’s fun for the kids to play against their parents,” Poapst said. “And basketball is a good sport, because you can play it all summer long by yourself or you can play two-on-two, or you can play young and old, or play shooting games with different people, so that’s all good.
“Being active and physically fit, it’s all important.”
This year’s mini sessions involved 126 kids and 16 coaches, along with other teachers who helped with transportation, photography and other duties.
“We have 12 kid coaches — from Grade 6 up to Grade 11 — and four adult coaches,” Poapst said.
“Lots of kids can get involved, and the (student) coaches are done their (school) season, and it’s just before ball or soccer or lacrosse season, so I do have ability to get those kids. It’s fun for everybody.”
The league is made up of six sessions over three weekends, with play Fridays after school and Saturday mornings. Grades 1 and 2 students make up one group, and the grades 3, 4 and 5 players are in another.
“Each week, they’ll have a different nametag,” Poapst said. “They might be with the same coach they had before, or they might be with a different coach.
“We do fundamental skills for close to half an hour. And then they scrimmage, so they play three-on-three and that kind of stuff.”
The mini basketball complements the summertime Camp Teckla in Stettler.
“This is the 17th year for Camp Teckla and this is our 15th for this (mini) camp,” Poapst said. “The first year we had this, we had kindergarten, grades 1, 2 and 3, just to see how it went. We only did kindergarten for one year, because they weren’t quite ready for it. My son (Joey) was in Grade 1 and (daughter) Kaitlin was in kindergarten at that time.”
Poapst and her family are among the team of volunteers who run Camp McE. The mini program was renamed last year after the death of sports enthusiast McElroy in August 2011.
This year’s Camp Teckla runs from July 1 to 5. The registration deadline is May 25.