Persistence Pays Off
Little Wound’s girls basketball team finished up the season last week at the South Dakota State Class A tournament in Brookings. Although the Mustangs didn’t take home the crown, they deserve all the praise we can offer them for staying the course and accomplishing their goal of qualifying for the state tournament.
Each and every year there are at least a couple of Native teams who make it to the state tournament. Occasionally, one of these teams will break through and bring the championship home, but for most in the state a championship win would be a bonus.
It takes a special kind of team, and coach, to navigate a season and finish amongst the top-8 teams in the state. This Little Wound team is extra special because it had to overcome so much more to accomplish this feat. It was only a few years ago when the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was in the midst of a historically significant suicide epidemic. The majority of the team from Little Wound are fro, the age group who felt the impact of this epidemic the most. Yet, these girls managed to survive that hardship to achieve a goal that has only happened once in the last twenty years at their school.
To know the other, more local, traumas and tribulations that this team has faced you almost need to be from the reservation. This past summer the Oglala faced a tremendous amount on inner turmoil due to multiple tragedies. Many of these issues became politically charged and almost resulted in Little Wound not bringing back its current coaching staff of the girls team. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and the Mustangs chose to stay the course. The result was a trip to the State Tournament for the team, but also as a distraction that helped to unite the community behind the team.
There is something about how our community can put aside their difference when it comes to supporting our local high school teams that I wished could be bottled and sold. Regardless, there is something to be learned from the unity that our teams give the people.
LCT would like send out a special congratulations to Coach Lyle Lebeau and the rest of the Lady Mustangs on a stellar season.
*Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.