May 23, 2017, 4:24 PM | Updated: Jan 15, 2021, 6:10 am

Gene Bechthold has served as an English and physical education teacher and coach for four decades. During this time, he has had an indelible impact on countless students both in the classroom and afterhours, including more than 20,000 who have participated in his intramural program. Bechthold has uniquely combined his passion for competition and teaching and coupled these with creativity and thousands of volunteer hours to create and administer a unique program that will have a profound impact on others for generations to come.

Bechthold’s intramural program is one of the best organized and innovative of its kind. It combines numerous diverse interests to attract a broad range of students, expand horizons and build community through common experience. The program includes weekly events ranging from one-on-one basketball and ping pong to darts, limbo, bowling, table-top football, trivial pursuit and even a paper airplane flying competition in the school’s auditorium.

Most Churchill Jr. alumni, even from decades ago, know Bechthold by name and can recount at least a half dozen intramural events they competed in, a friend they made through the program or lessons they learned from Bechthold. This was true with an experience I had a couple of years ago in New York. The following is a letter I sent to Mr. Bechthold after this experience:

Dear Mr. Bechthold.

I had an interesting experience yesterday that warrants sending you a letter of appreciation. I was one of your students and a benchwarmer on your volleyball team more than 25 years ago. I am now a partner in a Salt Lake City communications firm. While traveling on business this week, I scheduled a meeting with the partner of a New York firm, Mark Newman, who is a friend of a friend in the industry. As we were getting acquainted, we discovered we grew up less than a mile from each other and, although we weren’t there at the same time, we both attended Churchill Jr. High.

One of our strongest and most enduring memories was of your classes and intramural program, which we spoke about fondly and in great detail. Both of us remember your pep talk regarding the pressure of how competing in intramural finals for darts or ping pong would prepare us to shoot free throws in a state championship game or, more importantly, to have the confidence necessary to perform in the clutch when the stakes were high in business or with a family challenge.

While we didn’t fully comprehend your words at the time, we both acknowledged that this has been true in our lives. I am so grateful for the extra and often thankless hours you expended to teach me and many others this important life lesson and also for the opportunity participate in so many fun and diverse activities. I wish there was a way to make your intramural program a mandatory component of the junior high school experience. I hope you are well and that continue to do good work. Please accept my profound gratitude for the indelible impact you have had on my life and the lives of countless others.

With appreciation and fond memories,
Chris Thomas
As you can see, Mr. Bechthold represents the very best in Utah education and would be very deserving of the Teacher Feature honor.
-Chris Thomas

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

One person is dead following a three vehicle crash in Sanpete County around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Ja...
Waverly Golden

Three vehicle crash in Sanpete County leaves one dead

One person is dead following a three vehicle crash in Sanpete County around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28.
1 day ago
Tyre Nichols Protests...
Nouran Salahieh, Jamiel Lynch, Chuck Johnston, Shawn Nottingham, Andy Rose and Phil Gast, CNN

More protests today after release of video depicting the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols

Protesters across the US heldmarches & rallies on Saturday, one day after the release of video showing the police beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
1 day ago
Gov. Spencer Cox covered a broad range of issues Thursday night at the State of the State Address. ...
Chandler Holt

Governor Spencer Cox signs transgender bill, releases statement

Gov. Spencer Cox released a statement on the transgender bill, that would ban transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for minors, on Saturday.
1 day ago
Temperatures dropping weather worsens...
Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologist

‘Dangerous’ arctic air returns this weekend after a month-long hiatus

What has been a mild start to 2023 will come to a halt this weekend as winter makes a roaring comeback across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
1 day ago
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, talks about SB117, which he is sponsoring, during a Senate Judicia...
Devin Oldroyd

Two Republicans voted against bill banning transgender-related surgery, here’s why

The Utah Senate has approved a bill banning transgender-related surgery and puberty blockers for minors. A total of two Republicans voted against it.
2 days ago
Rabbi Avremi Zippel talks to the crowd during halftime of a Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game at Viv...
Mark Jones

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Area rabbi shares his thoughts

Rabbi Avremi Zippel joined Inside Sources Friday to discuss International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite