Written by the TWU Alumni Association
Several Spartans basketball alumni have partnered with the Spartan Foundation to honour former long-time Trinity Western coach Tim Teer by building an endowment in his name. Teer, who coached from 1983-1999, left a lasting impression on the lives of his players through his godly character and personal mentorship.
The addition to the men’s basketball endowment fund aims to carry on Teer’s legacy by providing the opportunity for a basketball player to attend Trinity Western and to support current coach Aaron Muhic as he builds a winning program.
As a three-year letter winner in both basketball and baseball at Duke University, then a player/coach for Athletes in Action, Teer was a respected professional. With his credentials, he could have coached at many other institutions, but he chose Trinity Western in 1983, despite it being much smaller back then and scarcely having a basketball team.
This confused and amazed many of his players.
“He came to coach a group of guys who probably would barely have made his high school team,” says Brian Ratzliff (’86), a former player and one of the organizers of the additional funds given to the endowment. “He’d played at such a high level but poured so much of his life—16 years—into us. There’s an incredible amount of appreciation from those who were able to experience that.”
Ratzliff’s teammate Carl Mattei (’87) agrees. “He didn’t need to be here,” says the now four-time Colorado state champion as head coach at Regis Jesuit High School. “He was a humble person who took a group of guys who weren’t very good and turned us into league champions.”
Growing up in Richmond, BC, Mattei wanted to play basketball at the highest level possible. Many of his friends went to play at Simon Fraser University, but after witnessing Teer’s character through Athletes in Action, Mattei decided to enroll at Trinity Western to train with Teer.
“Coming from a family situation where I didn’t have much of a father figure, Tim became that for me,” Mattei says. “He gave a lot of love, but not too much leeway. He helped shape who I am today.”
Mike Sprenger (‘87) shares a similar experience. He played for Teer for four years, then spent five more as his assistant coach. He’s since worked in overseas missions for over 19 years and coached international teams in Thailand and Mongolia. He says he owes 95 per cent of his coaching techniques to Teer.
“As his assistant, it was probably the best experience anyone could want,” says Sprenger. “Coaching with him was about so much more than basketball. It was about life, honouring the Lord, and doing things well.”
Trinity Western’s Athletic Director Jeff Gamache (’95), who is a Spartan alum himself, having played with the men’s volleyball team from 1992 to 1995, is thrilled that the basketball alumni has come together to honour such an important contributor to the history of Spartan Athletics.
“Coach Tim Teer, along with his wife Judy were incredibly formative to the basketball team in the ‘80s and ‘90s and have left a lasting legacy with many players’ lives, who they touched,” Gamache says. “Now to see those men return and honour Tim and Judy in this way is phenomenal. It’s going to be a really exciting night and I hope this is something we can continue to do with other generations of alumni and other sports moving forward.”
Because of Teer’s impact, many former players gladly stepped forward to dedicate funds to the endowment in his name and to help support TWU’s men’s basketball program, which has faced many challenges. Most schools in the U.S. offer full basketball scholarships and attract the best Canadian players, and competition for the remaining talent is fierce among Canadian schools. One of the primary goals of these funds is to help address that problem by aiding coach Muhic with travel and recruiting costs.
The alumni, along with the Spartan Foundation, were able to make a five-year commitment totalling over $125,000, which is a significant investment in Spartan Athletics.
On December 2nd, 2017, Teer will be honoured with the endowment presentation in his name in the Enarson Gymnasium during the TWU game against Brandon University. Former players from as far away as Ottawa, Denver, Calgary, Kelowna, Seattle, and through the Lower Mainland will be attending this special event. The game starts at 7 p.m. and Teer will be honoured at halftime. All alumni will get in free and will have special reserved seating for this event.
Fans and alumni alike are encouraged spend a few moments walking down memory lane, as the organizing committee will have a few pieces of history, including historic photos, videos and jerseys, set up in the Spartan deck.
Regarding the funds raised, Ratzliff says, “I think it’s important for current students to know that, as TWU hits 55 years, there are alumni at the peak of their professional careers who want to give back to the University. Now that we have perspective, and have grown in our professional careers, we can look back and appreciate all the things that Trinity Western gave to us.”
It seems for quite a few Spartans alumni, Coach Teer was one of those things.