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A milestone achievement for Laura Big Crow

Laura Big Crow.jpg
Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Laura Big Crow, Lakota Tech, made history this month by becoming just the second female high school head basketball coach in South Dakota history to qualify for the 'A' state tournament five times. Marcelle Herman did it five times as well with Belle Fourche.

“That’s exciting, I hope I can get more teams back here. I hope to see my daughters play here one day, and we’ll just keep it going,” said Big Crow. “I love basketball and that’s why we do it. I hope that I can continue to coach girls and get them here.”

The Big Crow name in general needs little introduction when it comes to basketball in the state, but for Laura, she’s built an impressive resume for herself, both as a player, and now as a coach.

She was a 1,000 point, and 1,000 rebound player for Pine Ridge high school. The Thorpes finished runner-up to Sisseton at the state tournament her senior year in 2004. She was also named a finalist for Ms. Basketball and was named to first team all-state that season as well.

From there, Big Crow went to Williston State College in North Dakota to continue her basketball career. She transferred to Mayville State (ND) for her final two years of eligibility. With the Comets she was a two-time all-conference player in the Dakota Athletic Conference, and a two-time honorable mention for NAIA All-American.

After graduation, Big Crow returned home to coach at her Alma Mater of Pine Ridge high school. Thus began the end of her playing journey, but the start of Laura Big Crow the coach.

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

“I love basketball, it’s more than just a job for me, it’s a passion,” Big Crow stated. “My dream as a little girl was to play at a state basketball tournament, and when I finished my career in college, my dream was to coach at a state basketball tournament. And now those dreams shift. Now my dream is to one day coach my daughters in a state tournament.”

For 11-years, Big Crow coached basketball at Pine Ridge. She led the Thorpes to the state tournament in ’12, ’13, and ’14 (Runner-Up).

In 2020, she got the opportunity to be the foundation for a brand-new program at Lakota Tech. Last season, in just their second season of fielding a team, Big Crow got Tatanka to the state tournament. This season, same story, Lakota Tech found their way back to March’s biggest dance.

“We started off slow at the beginning of the season, but it all started coming together,” Big Crow explained. “We wanted to be here. We’re here with the top eight teams in Class A and every game is going to be a battle.”

Lakota Tech topped Pine Ridge, Big Crow’s alma mater, in the first round of regions, and then beat Winner in the second round. A victory against Dupree then punched their ticket to the state tournament.

One special twist with this year’s squad is Laura Big Crow has five nieces who are also on the Tatanka squad.

“I love it, because I’m able to coach them like my nieces. I’m able to be hard on them and sometimes it sucks for them, but I love it,” Big Crow chuckled.

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Lakota Tech placed eighth to finish the state ‘A’ tournament this year following a loss to Rapid City Christian on Saturday. And hile it’s not the finish they were aiming for, Big Crow hints that sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.

“Every single team here is a tough team. We knew Red Cloud, we knew that was going to be a battle, and we knew Flandreau, we played them last year to get to the state tournament,” Big Crow said. “All these teams have great players, and unfortunately there’s a winner and loser in every game.”

While the final page closes on the 2022-23 season, next year you can bet, Lakota Tech will once again be a team with aspirations of getting back to the state tournament.

“This is one way that I can give back to the game, because it’s given me so much in my life,” she said with a smile on her face. “So I’m able to give back to the community and young girls.”

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.