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Triple Threat Trio | In Play

This article is from the July 2023 edition of SDPB Magazine. See past issues HERE.

Bright lights, voices over speakers, the hustle and bustle of livestock and people, the smell of popcorn, and belt buckles galore – some things you might experience on a summer night at the rodeo. For people in the Midwest, the rodeo is the summer staple. We gather with the rest of our community over numerous nights to support our local cowboys and cowgirls. We experience the hard work and dedication they put into their sport – and for a family from Wall, SD, they've committed even more.

The Blasius family captures the heart of South Dakota through their community involvement. Parents Brett and Paula and their children Lane, Josie, Blair, Burk, and Jace all participate in the rodeo, which started with their dad when he was younger.

Burk, Jace, & Blair
Burk, Jace, & Blair

"He [Brett] did the rodeo when he was younger," says one of the sons, Jace, "But he never had the luxury of what we have, of having his own arena and going to a rodeo every weekend." Brett shares that he wants his kids to have those same experiences. "I wanted to pass that opportunity on to my kids. To let them experience that Western way of life and the Western experience. Even though I'm not an expert, these guys all rode better than I ever did. It was neat to be able to give them the opportunity to do it."

Along with the rodeo, the family plays numerous sports. Their sons are involved in wrestling and football, and their daughter played basketball and volleyball. Blair (19), Burk (17), and Jace (16) all played for the same football team in 2022 when they won the 9AA State Championship. They have also taken home championships in State wrestling. With such heavy activity involvement, it takes a lot of structure and a strong family bond to keep it all going.


"Balancing three sports is tough," Blair explains. "They all don't fall at the same time, but they're one after another. It's football in the fall, wrestling in the winter, and rodeo in the spring and summer. But I wouldn't trade it for anything, even though it's stressful at times. It's a lot of fun, and I know I'll look back and smile." Brett shares what it is like for him as a parent. "It's sure challenging with these boys being multi-sport athletes. We get stretched pretty thin from time to time, but we try to keep it all in perspective. Faith is important to us, next comes family, and then fun. So, we try to approach it that way. It's challenging, but we do the best we can."

While the family focuses on hard work, good grades, and connection, their faith is most important to them. Parents Brett and Paula explain how faith is the foundation of their closeness as a family and is at the core of everything they do. Even during the busiest seasons and times on the road, they always attend Sunday Mass.

"We believe that our faith is most important," says Brett. "Things don't always go perfect, and sometimes things go great. In the good times and the challenging times, we just have got to have strong faith and believe it's for a reason and keep charging forward. Our faith is strong. It's behind everything we do." Paula continues the conversation. "There is a lot of pressure and expectation. But to get better, you have to be dedicated. What's most important to me, and I think they've done well, is their faith life. That's the key to everything."


Along with their parents, the oldest brother Lane has played a considerable role in inspiring and supporting his younger siblings. Lane has an MD from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and will start a residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, in July. He will specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

"Lane kind of paved the way for me and my brothers," says Jace, "he kind of paved the way for all three of us." Burk continues by saying, "There's a lot of people I look up to, but my other brother, Lane, I'm kind of trying to follow in his footsteps."

Lane expresses what it is like to be a role model and his experience now that he doesn't live at home. "It's pretty special for me to be a part of their lives like that. It's fun for me to come back, help guide them, and be a part of their lives. To be able to kind of go through the trials of their life, the sports, academics, all the things. It kind of comes back to what we talked about previously. Our family is a big thing for us, so me being here with them is special to me.

The Blasius family inspires a close-knit and involved South Dakotan family. Paula ends by saying, "My hope for all my kids, number one, is that their faith base is solid. To continue that, get through school, meet the right person, raise a family, and make a difference in this world. That's what my hope is for my kids."

Be sure to tune into all the rodeo highlights and see which South Dakota athletes punched their ticket to nationals on SDPB1 Thursday, July 6, 8pm (7 MT).

Kate Lundahl is a videographer, editor and producer for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. She is also heavily involved behind the scenes of live broadcasts. Her media career started in 2016 at KTCH in Wayne, NE. While there she built a foundation in producing stories for video, radio and online articles. She continued to pursue her passion for videography at Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City. And graduated with an AAS in Video and Media Production in 2019. In her college years she completed internships for SDPB and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From 2020-2022 she worked as a news producer for KCAU in Sioux City, IA.