June 22, 2022 at 7:34 p.m.

Competing for Katie

Competing for Katie
Competing for Katie

By Evan Michealson- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Sauk Centre volleyball camp raises money for Reitsma 

Every year, the Sauk Centre volleyball program hosts a week-long volleyball camp for youth and high school players alike to get valuable experience during the summer.

As an annual camp tradition, the Streeters senior class is tasked with creating a T-shirt design for the whole camp to wear on the final day. 

However, this year’s edition of the exciting volleyball learning experience, held June 13-16, proved to be an exception, as camp coaches and sisters Jena Adams, Jill Klaphake and Megan Klaphake worked with Midwest Screen Print, Inc. in Melrose to design shirts honoring former Streeters star Katie Reitsma, who suffered a brain injury while working on the family farm during a storm May 12.

On the front of the shirt read “SCVB Plays With,” with the back of the shirt listing five traits: toughness, passion, grit, selflessness and determination, rounded out with “Like Katie” in large lettering. Reitsma, who played alongside Jena and Jill, exemplifies these characteristics. 

“Even if people don’t know Katie, they still understand that Sauk Centre volleyball is based around all of those adjectives like Katie is, so anyone who knows Katie knows those words describe her very well,” Jill said. “We were trying to come up with a nice tribute to Katie but also one general enough where if they didn’t know Katie, it still made sense.”

The shirts, which were made gold to recognize Reitsma’s collegiate career at the University of Minnesota-Morris, were ordered in advance to ensure the camp could supply a historically populated volleyball camp. Normally, between grades 4-8, Sauk Centre volleyball expects 75-80 student-athletes to register. Whether it was excitement off the back of the school’s first volleyball state championship or something else entirely, over 100 kids joined volleyball camp this summer.

“All of a sudden, it was like the floodgates opened and my email was blowing up,” Jill said. “We ended up with 102 kids, just 4-8. It was a good 20-25 more kids than normal. It was an exhausting but good week.”

Despite the sheer numbers, it was not hard for the Klaphakes to get the rest of the camp on board with their Reitsma-themed shirt idea. Some of the children already know Reitsma from Holy Family School, and others know her as an excellent volleyball player for Sauk Centre as the Streeters’ all-time digs leader, but regardless of how much they personally know Katie, the high schoolers and youth players were completely open to the suggestion.

“That was nice to see, them putting it together, even the ones who don’t know Katie,” Jill said. “It doesn’t take much to please young kids. They get a T-shirt.”

More than anything, the T-shirts served as a way for the camp’s coaches to outline Reitsma’s influence on the program and her unmatched work ethic, a characteristic Sauk Centre wants to pass down to its up-and-coming achievers. 

“One of the girls said, ‘Katie was really good,’ and I said, ‘Katie was really good, but do you know what Katie was even better at than volleyball? How good of a teammate she is,’” Jill said. “It’s cool for the younger kids to see that yes, Katie was one of the best players to come out of our program, but she was the hardest worker in the gym.”

The sisters also decided that all proceeds earned from the camp would go to Reitsma’s family. Overall, Sauk Centre’s summer volleyball camp raised close to $1,500. 

The work does not end there. The Sauk Centre chapter of the Knights of Columbus, in conjunction with Sauk Centre volleyball, will be donating all of the money gained from its annual Sinclair Lewis Days co-ed volleyball tournament to the Reitsma family. So far, 15 teams have already signed up to participate.

“It’s another way,” Jill said. “Katie means a lot to me not only as a teammate, but also as a person.”



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