By Carson Ellis
For the Independent
Leighann Reimer, one of the original members of the program, is the head coach of the Camp Teckla Basketball Camp, which is in its twenty-sixth year. Over the years, she has seen the basketball camp grow from roughly 70 kids in 1997 all in 1 school gym, to 208 kids in 2023 with ten members on the coaching staff, spread across three different gyms.
Camp Teckla was started to memorialize a local student who had been killed in a car accident on her way to school in the March of 1997. Teckla Anderson was an avid basketball player; in 1995 she played in the Alberta Summer Games on the Juvenile Zone Team. In 1996, she helped take her team to provincials. In the Lady Wildcats’ first away game after losing to Anderson, 200 Stettler fans attended the game.
Upon her passing, Anderson’s friends and grandparents, who she lived with, wanted to find a fitting way to remember not only Teckla but her love of the game. They wanted to find a way to foster young people’s interest in basketball.
By August of 1997, the first ever Camp Teckla Basketball Camp was held. Many of Teckla’s teammates and classmates were not only organizers but were part of the coaching staff. Many of them continued to work with the program over the years, even after going off and starting their own lives elsewhere.
Reimer was a few years older than Anderson but had known her for several years since they both grew up in the Halkirk area. She says that when they first started the camp, they had set a hopeful goal of twenty years. She says that the first few years were emotional for those who knew her and were part of the program. Teckla’s grandparents have stepped back from the program, leaving it to Reimer, her team, and those involved behind the scenes, but keep in touch.
Reimer has a long history with basketball. She played professionally for a time in Europe on a National team. She also played with the University of Calgary. Now, she lives with her family in Three Hills.
The 2023 event was a family affair, Reimer worked alongside her oldest daughter coaching the older kids, while her younger children were part of the coaching staff working with the younger kids.
While many of the current coaching staff are new, many of them have been with the program for several years.
This includes the children of school coaches Kim and Bob Poapst. Kim had coached Teckla in high school, and the Poapst kids have been with the camp since the start and are now part of the coaching staff.
Reimer says she hopes to one day be able to step back from the coaching duties and leave that up to the younger members of her team. She would still be a part of the operations, but not so much directly involved in the coaching.
The 2023 edition of Camp Teckla ran from July 3-6 at the Stettler School campus.