A word cloud of keywords that Shelby Sudbrink's teammates used to describe her.
TEMPLETON — A fatal auto collision shook the community in the North San Luis Obispo County on Friday, Jan. 6 when news that Templeton High School senior Shelby Sudbrink had passed away. Sudbrink was a resident of Atascadero and a captain of the THS basketball team, and on Wednesday, some of her teammates remembered their friend.
Some of the common themes her friends recalled was her contagious laughter, her beaming smile, and her love of dancing.
“She would always be dancing,” longtime friend Annie Elterman said, “anywhere, like in class I would turn around and see her and she would be doing something weird and dancing. It was just so funny. She was always dancing and it is something I’ll always remember about her.”
Not only did she make others laugh with her antics and spontaneity, but her own laugh had a particular charm.
“It was contagious,” Elterman said. “If she ever laughed at you, you would feel like you were the funniest person in the world. It would just brighten up the room. Like wow. I still think about it.”
Elterman had known Sudbrink since kindergarten, and the two had played basketball together for more than 10 years.
Over the years, some things changed, but some things stayed the same.
“… her shot,” Elterman said. “She would bring it down [toward her hip], and would always do that ever since she was little. She was like ‘I’m never going to change it because it works.’”
Sudbrink touched many lives, whether it was over many years, or only a few.
“I haven’t known her that long, but she has made an impact on my life,” THS junior Haley Hurdle said. “That is how a lot of people would describe her — impactful. She was just that person who it didn’t matter how long you have known her — she was going to be known.”
THS junior Julia Aurignac had played sports with Sudbrink since sixth grade.
“We mostly did sporting events together,” Aurignac said, “and we would hang out and she would always put a smile on your face. She was always laughing.”
One memory came flashing back to Aurignac.
“This one time at an Anaheim tournament,” Aurignac said, “she sat next to this one guy she didn’t know and had a full on conversation with him. His name was Andy, and he worked at Olive Garden — it was about the same time as ‘Alex from Target,’ so he was ‘Andy from Olive Garden.’”
It was these kinds of memories filled with random acts of joyful spontaneity that seemed to mark the lives of those Sudbrink spent time with.
“I will remember Shelby as someone who always wanted to sing and laugh and smile,” Aurignac said. “She was always happy. That was just her. Even on the court, when she was mad, she was always smiling.”
It was common among the teammates that if you knew Sudbrink, you saw her laugh, smile, and dance — she was passionate.
“When Shelby was here, she would always pump us up by dancing and singing,” THS junior Vanessa Urciuoli said about the team’s game on Tuesday, “so we just tried to do that as much as she would.”
There seemed to be a cool ferocity about her that could be felt just by being around her.
“There is just this connection with her,” Hurdle said. “She is incredibly passionate and loving and loyal. She has always got your back. To play with somebody you can go to, and is watching out for you, it is nice and it is going to be missed. She definitely was that person.”
Sudbrink’s range extended to a high frequency, and her joy would bubble over.
“She had this laugh that was just contagious,” Hurdle said. “Shelby would start laughing, and coach would be yelling at us, and we would just be cracking up because she was hilarious. She had a contagious laugh and a contagious smile. She lit up a room when she came into it.”
Echoing the common sentiment among the players, Hurdle was impacted by Sudbrink’s joy, even when it was paired with some payback.
“I’ll remember her smile and her laugh,” Hurdle said. “She would get this smile when she would get mad. She would look at you with this smile and shake her head, and you knew — she was ticked, and she is going after somebody.”
That determination was key to Sudbrink’s success as an athlete, and a pleasure for her coach.
“[I’ll remember] her work ethic,” Koehler said. “She worked hard all the time. I always tell the girls in the drills we run, to finish to the lines. Shelby was always finishing to the lines — she was a leader. She was to practice on time, and goes to work to work. She was a blue collar basketball player, and she gets the job done. She was a pleasure to coach and we will remember her.”
While the No. 12 will be a visible theme throughout the remainder of the season, it is not a number that will be used much in the future — at least for a while.
“As long as I’m the coach, we will not have a No. 12, until her sister [Kiley] comes up,” Koehler said.
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