BATH TOWNSHIP — Teresa (Kahle) St. Clair’s voice began to crack when she thought of her decision to return to Bath.
The Bath Wildkittens had a huge impact on St. Clair’s life and career.
Now she’s hoping to have a similar effect on a few Wildkittens, who stand 18-1 this year.
St. Clair returned to Bath this year as the girls basketball varsity assistant coach to head coach Greg Mauk, who she played for her senior year for at Bath in 1999.
“I know what kind of impact it has had on me, being a Wildkitten,” St. Clair said. “Putting forth your best effort all the time. It changes you when you have a program where the fans expect the best from you. I try to express to these girls how they will cherish this for the rest of their lives. I tell them you need to give it your all.”
As Teresa Kahle, she played one year with her sister, Sherry, at Bath. When Sherry was a senior and Teresa was a freshman, the pair helped the Wildkittens to the state championship game.
St. Clair played three years at Bath for Hall of Fame legend Gretchen Prichard.
“She (Prichard) had an ambiance about her that demanded the best in people,” St. Clair said. “She knew how to get those competitive juices going. … I remember he saying to me, “Are you going to let your sister be better than you?’ That burned my engine like no other.”
St. Clair finished her Bath career with 1,028 points and was first team all-Ohio in 1999, when she averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds. As a senior, under first-year coach Mauk, the Wildkittens again finished as state runner-up.
It was that year that she first thought of coaching.
“When I played for Greg, he talked to me about being a coach on the floor,” St. Clair said. “He talked to me about encouraging my teammates and being a shining example. It made me a better player and made me wanting to be a coach.”
The 6-foot forward went on to play for coach Mark Ehlen at the University of Toledo. She played four years at Toledo, and started her final two years and averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds over her starting years. She finished her UT career with 849 points.
After graduating from Toledo with her degree in Education, she became the freshman girls basketball coach at Maumee.
After one year in coaching, she moved to Columbus and began selling medical equipment.
She was also involved with promoting fitness and fitness modeling. That led her to take a trip to Washington for a strong man event.
That’s where she met Corey St. Clair, a U.S. athlete competing around the world in the World’s Strongest Man events. After a whirlwind three-month romance, St. Clair and Kahle were engaged.
“I didn’t even know what a strong man was at the time,” she said with a laugh. “I thought it was like a sumo wrestler.”
St. Clair sold his fitness business in Idaho and moved to Columbus with Kahle. The couple were married in 2012, and had a son, Ashden, in March of 2013.
“When we decided to have a family, the stress in sales was not good for our relationship and the baby,” St. Clair said. “Being a mom, we decided to move to Lima. Once we moved back to Lima, I went to every (Bath) game two years ago.”
With her return, Mauk asked her to address the team before a game one night.
“I talked about what it meant to be a Wildkitten, the atmosphere and all,” she said. “I told them you couldn’t buy this. … That was the turning point for me (in returning to coaching).”
Last year, St. Clair was a substitute teacher at Elida and Bath. This year, she’s a physical education aide at Bath.
And this season she returned to the bench, when Mauk asked her to be his varsity assistant.
She couldn’t be happier with her decision to leave the world of sales and help coach the Wildkittens.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” St. Clair said. “It lit the fire within me.”
St. Clair was always passionate as a player. She was quick to dive across the floor for any loose ball.
Now her passion for the game has been rekindled.
“I think the passion is even more intense now,” she said. … “This is truly what it’s all about. I know what being a Wildkitten meant to me. What impact I have, I don’t know. I’ll let them see what they are capable of. That’s all the payment I need.”