JIM SINCLAIR/Independent editor
It would be hard to find more smiling faces in any one location than at the Stettler Elementary and Wm. E. Hay High School starting this week.
Monday was the opening day of the week-long basketball camp named in honour of a popular local athlete, described below on the camp’s website at firstname.lastname@example.org:
“Teckla Dawn Anderson was born September 27, 1980 in the Stettler hospital. She attended the Halkirk school from grade one to nine, actively participating in all sports. She was proud to be chosen as a member of the Zone 4 basketball team which competed in the 1995 Summer Games in Stony Plain. When it came to grade ten, her love of basketball and drama led her to the Wm. E. Hay High School in Stettler where she became a Lady Wildcat. Reuniting with former teammate Leighann Doan, also from Halkirk, they reached the 1996 Provincial playoffs in Red Deer.”
“A team player with a zest for living, Teckla tragically lost her life in a car accident on Tuesday, March 11th, 1997, enroute to school.”
On Monday, July 4 the throbbing din of bouncing basketballs was punctuated by squeaking court shoes and the shouted instructions of coaches. The exclamations of the pink-clad youth were also audible amid the boisterous soundtrack.
This is an intensive instructional and motivational camp and the kids who take it in arrive from across the region, the province and from as far away as Texas.
Well over 100 are signed on for this year’s version, in a male to female ratio of roughly 50-50.
A pair of enthusiastic players agreed to take a minute away from the Monday action in the high school long enough to talk about the sport and the camp.
Fourteen-year-old Payge Bratt is getting ready to go into grade nine and has been playing basketball, attending camps since she was in grade one.
“This is my second year (at Camp Teckla) and I find it really helps me improve my skills. It’s a lot of fun and I get to meet new people.”
Payge says her mom played college basketball and she would like to do the same.
“It’s a lot of fun. I want to make it as far as I can.”
Kyle Sieben feels the same, although the hoop sport has only more recently become a focus for him.
“I just started getting interested about two years ago,” said the teen. “Since then I’ve played spring league and school basketball and this is my first camp.”
Actively involved in swimming, volleyball and badminton, Kyle’s ideal future would include as many sports as possible by the time he gets to the college level, allowing him some options.
Chris McElroy first became involved as a camper back in the beginning, and he keeps up his association even now.
“I’ve been coaching 10 or twelve years now,” he said on July 4.
“It’s the highlight of the summer,” he said. “We book time off work to come down to be with the kids.”
As many as 170 kids are taking part this year, adding to the over 1,500 who have been put throughout their paces over the years.
LeighAnn Reimer knew Teckla well, as a friend and teammate.
“I actually played with her in junior high,” said Reimer during a break in the action. “Then I played with her in high school. She was 16 when she was killed in a car accident, her grandparents set this camp up as a memorial to her.”
The depth of the commitment shown by the instructors is matched only by the obvious pleasure and vitality demonstrated by the campers. As the week would progress it’s only reasonable to expect even greater intensity.
“It’s exciting to see this continue like this,” said Reimer. “I love to see basketball promoted, so if we can put the two together it’s a win-win situation, and lots of fun, too.”