It has been almost 12 years since Jaclyn Steffich has played competitive basketball for the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves, but the Maple Ridge athlete turned teacher remembers being on the court like it was yesterday.
Steffich, whose maiden name is Nazareno, was inducted into her alma mater’s Wall of Honour on Saturday, March 6.
“It has been really special, as it has given me a reason to reflect back on that time, and my teammates, and my coaches, and allowed me to think about how that experience has brought me to where I am now,” she said.
The 5’5” guard – who played for UNBC from 2004- 2009 – has gone from defending speedy ballers to keeping rug rats in line as a Kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher at Eric Langton elementary in Maple Ridge.
Steffich credits a great collegiate atmosphere in Prince George for pointing her in the right direction.
“What I learned when I got there was that it was a welcoming and supportive sports community,” she said. “Athletics were really involved in their community, so we did a lot of community outreach and camps, including some in elementary schools.
“I loved those experiences, and they probably solidified my decision to become a teacher today.”
Previous to joining the Timberwolves, she played her high school ball at Thomas Haney Secondary under coach Kerry Rokash.
The tough competition, and excellent coaching during her secondary school years, gave her the skills and work ethic to make big leaps from year-to-year with her collegiate squad.
She concluded her career with the single-season record for points and assists for the Timberwolves, and finished with the highest all time scoring and assists for the school too.
Most importantly, she helped the team win. The Timberwolves clinched their first provincial championship in Steffich’s fourth year with the club, and she helped them emerge victorious in 65 per cent of their games while playing there.
UNBC coach Loralyn Murdoch said Steffich was a leader, on and off the court, and took a lot of pride in being a Timberwolf.
“She was a role model, she trained harder than anyone, worked in the classroom, and loved volunteering with the youth in the community,” her former coach said.
“And on game nights, she came to win. She epitomizes what being a UNBC Timberwolf is all about.”
These days, Steffich is married and raising a young prospective baller of her own, her son Anthony.
“He’s three, so he’s pretty impressed with anything I do. But one day I hope he’ll be impressed by this (induction),” she said.
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