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In Play with Craig Mattick: Tom Casey

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Tom Casey is known as the voice of high school sports on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. For decades he's traveled the state covering games on KILI radio. As a college student, he came to South Dakota and never left. It's hard to talk about iconic sportscasters in South Dakota without mentioning Tom Casey.
Craig Mattick: Welcome to another edition of In Play. I'm Craig Mattick. Our In Play podcasts feature high school coaches and players and teams and administrators over the years here in South Dakota. But today's guest is involved in the high school sports world in the state as a radio broadcaster. He was born overseas in a military family, and as a youngster moved many, many times.

But when it came a time to work in radio, for the first time he moved to South Dakota and has never left, and he's been a staple on the radio across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He's broadcast hundreds of ballgames. He's watched some great athletes. There aren't a lot of other broadcasters who have spent the windshield time going to broadcast ballgames all across South Dakota as our guest today. And it's the great Tom Casey joining us today. Tom, welcome to In Play.

Tom Casey: Thank you, sir.

Craig Mattick: K-I-L-I Radio. It's Kili Radio there in Pine Ridge. It's been around more than 40 years now, Tom. You're a kid going to school in Colorado at the time. How did you get to Pine Ridge, and what were your expectations at that time? It was back in the early to mid '80s.

Tom Casey: It was 1970 to be exact.

Craig Mattick: The late '70s. Even earlier.

Tom Casey: 1970 exactly. It was in the middle of a crazy time in this country. I was a senior at the University of Colorado. I'd gone to Colorado University on a gymnastics scholarship. I competed gymnastics in high school and got a scholarship to the University of Colorado. I was in my fourth year. I was taking a sociology class. Now in the spring of 1970, this country was ablaze. We'd had National Guard shoot students at Kent State. We'd had demonstrations all over this country. The invasion of Cambodia brought a new demonstrations, and the University of Colorado shut down and they went to independent study for all their classes.

One of the professors there in sociology I sat down with and he said, "We have some students who are up on Pine Ridge who are working." He asked me if I'd like to join them. It was a master's degree program in sociology in the field and it was on Pine Ridge Reservation. So he talked to me in May. One month later, in June of 1970, I was on Pine Ridge. I was in Wounded Knee and I knew no one there, but I joined this program and it was a program tied up with Vista.

It was a unique pilot program that allowed you to be a Vista volunteer while you were a graduate student at the university working on your master's degree. So it was set to go three years. That's how I got to Pine Ridge, that's how I got to Wounded Knee. That program ended abruptly after in 1973. There were few of us who got inadvertently arrested at Wounded Knee. The charges are all dropped, but that tagged us and the tribal administration wanted to end the program that they found a way to do it.

Craig Mattick: They ended the program but you decided to stay. What were you thinking at that time?

Tom Casey: I was thinking it was a good place to be. Good people, nice country, and I just had to find... I did odd jobs. I worked in the city park in Gordon, Nebraska. I worked in a bowling alley. Then I went to work for Shannon County Schools helping to develop curriculum. And then in 1975, I went to work for Oglala Lakota College. I had my master's degree and I could teach, so I taught an administrative program. By a couple years later, I was still there and created my own department, Director of Media and Publications. So I did posters, brochures, the college catalog and annual report. Did PR form them, did a variety of things.

But the radio station started in 1983. I was still at college. I was a little slow on the uptake. I finally decided, "Well, heck, we got a radio station right here." In February of 1985, I started a show on Sunday night. It went four hours. It was called On the Road with Oglala Lakota College. First Hour was an interview from a student, a staff member, a faculty member, community member. The next three hours, I got to play blues and jazz. It was the only blues and jazz show on Kili Radio. And in fact, while I was doing the show, I'd get calls from some people, "When are you going to take that shot music off the air?" It had been a country and Western show and I turned it to blues and jazz. The program director at the station liked it because it added a bit of variety to Kili Radio. He liked it and that's how I got my start.

Craig Mattick: And you weren't doing any sports at the time, were you?

Tom Casey: No, no, no. But by showing I could interview, then I ended up being involved in covering the tribal election and interviewing the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Then in the turn of the new year, 1986, the sports broadcaster was bailing out, and so the program director said, "Hey, let's go do a game." I'd never done a game. I was a sports person. I'd been an athlete in college. I'd played baseball, I'd played basketball, I'd done a lot of sports. I followed sports. In fact, when I was in Colorado, I used to sneak into the Denver Broncos Mile High Stadium. I hop the fence and watched the Denver Broncos.

Anyway, he said, "Let's go do a game." So he and I went to the game. Neither one of us ever done a basketball game, so we did a couple. Then I said, "What's on the schedule?" He said, "Well, next weekend we got a triple header in Rapid City." "Who's going to do that?" "Well, you are." I was on my own to do three straight games in Rapid City. That was the beginning. That was in the spring of 1986, I went to my first state tournament. I remember they had switched from two classes to three and Pine Ridge got to the state tournament. I'll be honest with you, I felt that Pine Ridge that year in the spring of '86 had the best team at state. But they lost in double overtime to Beresford. It was on the free throw line they lost it.

So they were out, they ended up taking third in that tournament. So the next year, actually, it was the fall of '86, actually, winter of '86, I actually started covering the Pine Ridge Thorpe in the very first game. They went to Douglas, Wyoming for their first game. I was on their bus and hitchhiking the lawn, I broadcast that game. I ended up doing 21 of their 26 games. It was a historic season because in the spring of 1987, the Pine Ridge Thorpes ran the table. They were 23 and 0, took the regional title in winter and then went to state as the number one seed.

And in the championship game, they played Lennox. About halfway through the third quarter, they were down by eight points. But nobody who had followed Pine Ridge that year was worried. Because Willie White, George Stallion and the boys, they said, "Okay, it's time to play ball." They kicked it in gear and they ended up going from eight down to winning by eight and they took the state championship, 26 and 0. That was in March of 1987. It was a quick introduction to sports and covering and doing radio. It was a good year.

Craig Mattick: What was that very first game like though? I mean, you've never broadcast a game before. What was that game like? Did you know what was going on?

Tom Casey: Well, you know the challenge. I mean, baptism under fire, obviously, the challenge, which is the same today. I went into this year's 45th annual Lakota Nation Invitational last Wednesday at the monument in Rapid City. Certainly, for some teams, it was their first game of the season. Obviously, teams have some players back, but then there's some new players. So the challenge of whether it was last Wednesday or my very first game in January of 1986, you had to know who the players were. You had to connect the players, do their numbers, and to their position. In the very first part of the game, you got your game face on, you're working to connect numbers of players. That's your work and you get that done, then you can comfortably do the play by play.

One of my challenges, I'm a stat man. So as long as I've done basketball or football, I keep stats along the way. And you would add one stat at a time. One game at a time, I would add things until I came to a time when I would do points, fouls, rebounds, assists, steals, and block shots. I was doing the play by play. That was a challenge. But anyway, it was really difficult. Took practice, second game. Then you do three games in a row. Baptism under fire, baby, you got to do it.

Craig Mattick: So when you started doing ball games though, you're also working at the radio station. I think you're the director of development as well for the station. I mean, how many duties did you have as well as doing all these games?

Tom Casey: I volunteered at the radio station from '85 until '89. I would do sports broadcasting, and I would volunteer to do interviews. Either interviews during elections or other interviews that they wanted done until 1989. Then that's when I moved from Oglala Lakota College over to the station. I started as director of development. A year later, the station, they struggled a bit. In public radio in a small rural area, you're hustling for money, you're hustling for support. They tried a benefit concert. They tried that. The previous year, they'd done one. It worked out well. It made some money.

But this year, that year, it was '90, a year after I started volunteering and the concert lost $85,000. About knocked the station on its behind and we had to hustle like crazy. Out of that, I became the acting manager. I moved from development director to acting manager. Then in a small station, you're doing... I was the acting manager. I did programming, I did fundraising. You just had a hand in everything in order to keep it going. That's how I ended up being in the managerial position. It was supposed to go for 60 days and they'd advertise every position, but we ended up getting the station back on the street.

Craig Mattick: Look at it today. It is a huge testament to you, Tom. That station is so important to the people in Pine Ridge. What does Kili Radio mean to the folks out there in Pine Ridge?

Tom Casey: That's how Kili started. You have to go back to 1980 in that area. I mean, people were looking at putting something together. One of the things that was frustrating is that on Pine Ridge, you were covered by TV stations in Rapid City or other radio stations. None of those entities, none of those media outlets were from the Pine Ridge community. So they were outside covering and that was a frustration. Pine Ridge is a big area, 50 by 100 miles and a lot of wide open spaces. In the beginning, a group of people who came together, they wanted to help connect people, provide communication and they decided on a radio station. They decided that would be one way to connect, to celebrate Lakota culture and to connect people, communicate news and information, ideas.

That's how it came about. They started in February of 1983. They actually built the station in the summer of '82 and then went on the air in February. February 25, 1983, first time they went on the air. One of the significant things was the first DJ, his name was Calvin Two Lance and he spoke in both Lakota and English, and that was really special. In the beginning of the reservation, there was a goal to stop the Lakota culture, assimilate native people to stop their language and so forth. Here, it was 1983 and the first person on the radio spoke both Lakota and English. It was special.

Craig Mattick: Well, you got special people there working today. I know that the folks out in Kili Radioland, they love the station. You've been a major part of it over these years, Tom. When you're looking at the sports end of it though, was it just Pine Ridge? How many different classes, schools do you follow over the years and even currently today?

Tom Casey: Well, when I started, they just switched to three classes, AA, A, and B. Over the years, I mean, obviously, we have Class A teams on Pine Ridge, Pine Ridge, Red Cloud, Little Wound, those are all class A teams. Crazy Horse up in Wanblee is class B. We've covered Ulrich as well. Ulrich is just west of Pine Ridge Reservation and actually 90% to 95% of the students that attend Ulrich are from the reservation from Oglala. We've also covered White River, which is class B. We've covered Todd County and St. Francis. We've covered Eagle Butte and Takini up on Cheyenne River and that's Class B.

We've actually had the opportunity to cover AA as well. There was a young man who he'd been part of a... There used to be a youth tournament, the BJ Weston Memorial Basketball Tournament, and they had categories like seven to nine-year-olds and then 10 to 12-year-olds, sometimes 13 to 15. It was a youth basketball tournament in the spring. One tournament, a young man from Rapid City came down. He's originally from Cheyenne River. His name was Ray Handboy and he played. I thought he was a great player, but he played... He didn't have a left hand. It was a birth defect. He had a stump but no hand. But he could dribble, he could shoot. He was great player at youth basketball. He was, I think, 12 years old and really played well.

Years later, he lived in Rapid City and he went out to Rapid City Central. As a freshman, he got cut. As a sophomore, he got cut. As a junior, he'd sprouted some inches and he finally made the JV team. And as a senior, he was a starter on the Rapid City Central-Cobbler's team. I told him that if he got to be a starter, that I would come to one of his games and broadcast it. One day, I showed up at Rapid City Central. They were playing Sturgis. I sat at the scores table and broadcast the AA game. It's back to the way I started. You had two teams that you... Sturgis, I'd never seen. Rapid City Central, I knew Ray Handboy.

But you were game face, concentrating like crazy to make sure you got all the names squared away and got into the game, so I did a AA game. It was two or three years ago, there's a young man who was playing for University of South Dakota, Mason Archambault. He was at Rapid City Stevens. It was a unique year at Stevens. Out of six of their top seven players are native, and four of the five starters were native. So we covered several of their games at Rapid City Stevens. Then we went to the state AA tournament in Rapid City. We didn't have any Class A schools playing. So we went and did the AA tournament with Mason Archambault and his teammates. There was a Lawrence from Cheyenne River that played and there was a Hunter. And it was great. It was a great opportunity.

Craig Mattick: I remember those guys. They were good. They were good.

Tom Casey: They could run. They could run.

Craig Mattick: I know you've done a lot of basketball games over the years, but I want to talk about some of the more memorable players that you got a chance to see. The one player I never got a chance to see but I wish I would've seen it and it would've been SuAnne Big Crow. Of course, Pine Ridge won the 1987 championship over Millbank. But SuAnne Big Crow, I mean, her name is honored at state basketball every year with the Spirit of Su Award. You saw SuAnne play. Tell me about SuAnne Big Crow.

Tom Casey: She was special. She was special. Number one, she was a good person. Number two, she was a really good student. She got all As. I mean, she really was focused on being a student athlete, and she was a great player. Man, she hustled like crazy. She led the fast break, she was a point guard. She could share the ball, she could shoot the ball. And she started playing on the varsity as eighth grader and then as a freshman. As a sophomore, you talked about Pine Ridge winning this State Boys Tournament in 1987. Well, two years later in 1989, SuAnne was a sophomore that year and she was very instrumental in that team. And they went up and down the road. I remember that we went to... Is it Wakanda where Becky Flynn played?

Craig Mattick: Wakanda, correct.

Tom Casey: We went there and played. We went all over and played. That's one of the things about Pine Ridge. Pine Ridge would struggle. Pine Ridge and Red Cloud and Teams on the reservation struggle to get teams to come to the reservation. So oftentimes, they might have two or three or four home games and the rest were on the road to make sure that he'd get games in. I'll come back. Jeff Mendoza coach at Pine Ridge, he never cared about what his overall record was. He wanted to play the best teams, whether it was A or AA with the idea of getting hardened and getting prepared for the off season. He'd go to Pier, he'd go play Rapid City Central. He went all over.

That's why Pine Ridge, that girl's team went all over that year as well. That was 1989. So they ended up in the state tournament in '89. They were the underdog. They ended up in the championship game with Millbank, and Millbank was definitely favored. They had was about 10 seconds left in the game. It was tied. It was 40 all. You knew who was going to take the shot. SuAnne brought the ball down, pull up jumper about 15 feet away, she missed. But as a true serious basketball player, you follow your shot. She got her own rebound and then flipped back, and Pine Ridge won the State A championship in 1989 over Millbank. That was her as a sophomore.

She struggled the next two years. I mean, she didn't struggle individually. I mean, she continued to score. She's one of the top scorers in the state, and I think she's had the single season record for a long time. It was 707 points in a season, but she was such a real positive role model. She stayed away from alcohol and drugs. She promoted sobriety. Along with being a super athlete, she just was a good person, and worked hard to be a role model amongst her high school students there at Pine Ridge. She was great.

Craig Mattick: It was devastating though, she dies in a car accident on the way to the Miss Basketball awards after her senior season. It had to be so devastating to the folks. It was, and not only in Pine Ridge but across the state of South Dakota.

Tom Casey: It was devastating. I mean, you were thinking along the lines that you don't often have players come from Pine Ridge or Red Cloud or reservation, and go on to college and play college ball at any level, whether at NAIA or NCAA Division Two, rarely at Division One. And we were all excited for the opportunity to see her continue on. Not only to go to college to get a college education, but also to see what she could do at the next level in the area of basketball. And she died, like you said, she was on her way to the Miss Basketball Banquet and died in a car wreck right about Draper on I-90. I went up and saw the exact place where she went off.

Craig Mattick: Let's talk about some of the great athletes you have seen. Let's talk basketball up on the boys side. Who were some of the guys that you just had a thrill watching them play basketball?

Tom Casey: One of them was Jeff Hart. Outstanding basketball player.

Craig Mattick: Was it 47 points, he scored in state tournament game once?

Tom Casey: 48.

Craig Mattick: 48. I remember that.

Tom Casey: The frustrating thing was it was the championship semifinal game in the state tournament. He was the offense, they could not stop him. I think it was Dell Rapids they were playing, but they couldn't stop him. And he would drive, pull up... He could shoot threes, he could drive the lane and he just was unstoppable. And they had a five, six-point lead. He was playing with four fouls. And sometimes, you're just in it and you're not thinking, you're just... He was at a half court line and he went for the steal. Now whether it was actual foul or just the perception of a foul, he picked up his fifth foul and was out of the game. And Dell Rapids came back and tied the game and went into overtime and they won it in overtime and beat Jess and his team in overtime. He was unstoppable but he picked up the fifth foul in the game and he was out, they lost the game.

Craig Mattick: Your son, by the way, Mackenzie, he played basketball for Red Cloud. As broadcasters, some of us get the joy of calling a ball game with our kids playing. So how many high school games did you get to call with Mackenzie playing basketball?

Tom Casey: Well, I had had some practice. My older son, Sean, had played first for Red Cloud and then played for Little Wound. And I did a number of games with Sean playing so I had-

Craig Mattick: How cool was that? That was cool.

Tom Casey: ... I had a little practice. He was six years ahead of Mackenzie. Then when Mackenzie came up then... It's hard. It's really hard. I mean, you're broadcasting the game with your son and sometimes my partners would say, "Hey." They'd have to elbow me to get back on track because I'd be following my son. Here's the story, Bo LaBaux we were going to cover Lakota Nation Invitational up in Rapid City and before we started, I asked Bo, I said, "Bo, your son's playing. Is that going to be a problem?" "No, I'll be okay." "You're sure? I just want to make sure. Because when I schedule the games, I could schedule it so you don't have him." He says, "No, I'll be fine."

The tournament started, he ended up with a Pine Ridge game and halfway through the game, he was calling me. He said, "Tom, I can't do this. I can't do the game. I can't do it with my son on the floor." And that's the deal. It's really hard. You come across coaches who are coaching their own son or daughter. Dusty Lebo coached every one of his kids to a state tournament, and it was always a challenge. Brian LaRoche Sr. last year coaching Lower Brule coached his son, Brian LaRoche Jr. They went to State B tournament, ended up losing. They won a triple overtime game over White River in the semis. And then played the championship game against Desmet.

But I talk to him all the time about the challenges of coaching your son or your daughter. Last year, White River's Coach Eldon Marshall, both his sons, Dylan Marshall was the starting point guard and Nick Marshall was the starting two guard. Dylan has graduated and gone on but Nick Marshall is still there as a junior. I just did I think two or three of their games in the Lakota Nation where Joe Sayler and Nick Marshall were playing and Eldon still coaching. So yes, the challenge of whether you're coaching or whether you're broadcasting and your son or daughter is playing, it's tough.

Craig Mattick: Well, Mackenzie went to go play for South Dakota State University.

Tom Casey: He did.

Craig Mattick: Following him at SDSU plus doing your full slate of basketball games, how often were you able to see Mackenzie play for the Jacks?

Tom Casey: Well, it was an adjustment. The first year, I probably got to, I don't know, five, six, seven, eight games. I was able to increase that as the years went on, worked out my schedule in that. I can remember one year, it was his sophomore year, they were going to play Kentucky at Rupp Arena. I originally had two people going with me who wanted to go. They dropped out. So I left on my own and headed for Kentucky, driving across the country while he flew with the team. I got there and it's historic. You don't often get the chance to play at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. And I got there and was there and it was great.

Craig Mattick: Tom, in all your travels to all these ballgames, following your kids to basketball games, whether they played in Kentucky or up in Minnesota, all these games you did across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, how many vehicles have you gone through?

Tom Casey: Well, I'm hard on vehicles, Craig.

Craig Mattick: That's what I've heard.

Tom Casey: I have a nickname, they call me Crash. I've been good the last couple of years. But over the years traveling, I've hit 29 deer, 11 horses, three cows, three big owls, five wild turkeys, a sheep, and two coyotes. It plays havoc with my vehicle. It can stop you in your tracks at times. Nothing like coming across, having a deer jump out. I remember I was coming back from doing a game up at Eagle Butte, my friend and I, Todd O'Brien, were driving, we were just getting ready to come across the bridge at Cheyenne River and a deer jumped out and we banged it on the left fender and Todd got out, straightened the fender out so it wasn't grating against the tire. We just jumped back in the car and headed south back to Kyle and Pine Ridge. It could be a wild place. You got deer, you got horses, you've got all kinds of animals. It's just part of the game.

Craig Mattick: How about the most treacherous trip you've ever had to make to get a broadcast in? Snowstorms?

Tom Casey: There's probably more than... People have a few views about this. I can remember going to Billings. I think Pine Ridge and Little Wound were going up to Billings. They have a early season tournament up, I think it's the Met Center, I'm not sure. But they used to play up their big facility. We went up there. I took my family with me and broadcast, I think, two games Friday and two or three games on Saturday. And then we rolled back and we went to Sheridan, Wyoming. I can remember it was storming and starting to snow bad. It turns out we got out of Sheridan just before they closed the road. And we shouldn't have left Sheridan. It was incredibly difficult. Snow blinding, barely see the road. We should have been caught at Sheridan, not left. It was a blizzard condition and it can be hazardous. It can be deadly. But we finally made it, took us a long time and slow. But that's probably one of the worst in weather like that. It's tough.

Craig Mattick: Are you still as busy broadcasting games today as you were over the past 30, 40 years? Do you still maintain a pretty heavy schedule when it comes to basketball?

Tom Casey: Well, I'll be honest with you, we just finished the 45th Annual Lakota Nation Invitational. It was at the Monument. Last year, they added an eight additional teams. So they have 24 girls basketball teams, 24 boys basketball teams. For this last week's four days, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, they had eight games a day in all three of the arenas at the Monument. In the Ice Arena, in the Barnett Arena and the brand new Summit Arena. So we went in there, we broadcast the first three girl's games in the Ice Arena on Wednesday and then went to the Summit and broadcast the next five games that were boy's games.

Then on Thursday, we were back at eight o'clock in the morning, they had the championship quarter finals for each of the girls and boys tournaments and the station broadcast eight games. So Stacy Phelps and I, we would do the first three games each day and the last two. So we did five of the eight games each day. So that meant that we were in there before 8:00 to get set up and ready to go at 8:00 AM and finish after the last game of the night. Because we did the first three in the last two. Five games a day for four days. Craig, I'm an old guy, even at 74, it was a marathon. But come down to the championship games on Saturday night, the girls' championship featured the Red Cloud Lady Crusaders, and featured against Lakota Tech.

Lakota Tech is in their third year now. Both Red Cloud and Lakota Tech played in the championship game last year of LNI. They went to overtime and Red Cloud won. Both teams, Red Cloud and Lakota Tech went to the State A girl tournament last spring, it was in Brookings. Then this year, Lakota Tech who'd lost two players but really had four of their five starters back, and they were the number one state. Red Cloud lost six of their top seven players. They still had garnered the number two seed. They beat Rapid City Christian in the semis, and they came up against Lakota Tech of the championship game.

Lakota Tech was favored, bigger, stronger, older, mature. Red Cloud was down early in the second half. They only played two, sixty-minute halves in this tournament. They were down by 13 points early in the second half. And when the dust settled, the youngsters from Red Clouds, faster, quicker, hustles like crazy put on the full court press, got turnover after turnover. And they ended up winning the game 45 to 38. It was a great championship game. Then right after that, you have the boys camp. It's White River, then number one seed, Eldon Marshall. There's players that never get to the state tournament in their time. My son Mackenzie Casey was one who never got to the state tournament.

Eldon Marshall has taken the White River Tigers to 17 straight State B Tournament. So he was the number one seed. They played Rapid City Christian, a young team. They start three sophomores and two seniors. It was a battle. White River went up, then Rapid City Christian went up. Rapid City Christian had the lead to half. White River, made a couple runs. Rapid City Christian held them off. In the end, it was tied 77 all and it was down to seven seconds. Christian had the ball. They got it into their really good sophomore, Benson Kieffer. He drove down the right side of the lane, full up jumper, 15-footer at the buzzer and they won the game, 79-77.

Two great championship games. We'd already done five, 10, 15, 18 games before those two championship games. There's nothing like a good game to crank your old adrenaline up. That's why I always tell people I love OT. I love overtime. Why? Because you don't have to worry about getting cranked up. It's intense game. There's stress, it's exciting. You're pumped up ready to do the game. People don't realize the energy that it takes to do a game.

Craig Mattick: Do you miss doing the jazz show?

Tom Casey: Yeah, I do. It was a nice time. I didn't interview and then I could play blues and jazz. I'd tell you a little story. Because I was never really a big band guy but big band is basically jazz. One night, I got to playing big band music. And all of a sudden, I got started getting called and these people were calling me that said, "That was the music of our day. It just took us back." That was their music. It just blew me away, because I was a youngster.

Craig Mattick: I think that they might let you do it now again, Tom, if you asked them.

Tom Casey: Who am I going to ask? Myself? I always enjoyed doing that.

Craig Mattick: Last one for you, Tom. You've been involved with high school sports on the radio, and helping Kili Radio on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for decades. What keeps you excited about this job?

Tom Casey: As a parent and as a teacher, your goal is to get kids connected. That's what you want. You want them connected. You don't want them hanging out by themselves. You want them connected so they stay involved and they figure out ways to reach their potential. That's what kept me involved to stay connected and to continue to work at... Lakota Nation, I mean, there's 2,500 to 3,000 kids that are participating in the Lakota Nation Invitational. You got young people involved in a positive activity, it's not just basketball, they have wrestling and archery, chess tournament, they have an art exhibit, they have a Lakota language bowl, a knowledge bowl, they have cheerleading competition. It's all these different things that keep our young people involved. And I think that's what keeps me involved, keeps me connected as well. I guess that's what it is.

Craig Mattick: If you like what you're hearing, please give us a five star review wherever you get your podcasts. Programs such as this are only possible to the continued support of our listeners like you. For South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I'm Craig Mattick. Join us again on the next episode of the In Play.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.