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Native Sun News Today: Duane Big Crow relishes role as football coach on Pine Ridge Reservation






Duane “Papa Syrup” Big Crow serves a head football coach for the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

His aunt called him ‘Syrup’
Duane Big Crow takes on challenges of coaching
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
nativesunnews.today

PINE RIDGE –– By any measure, Duane Big Crow is a success at his chosen profession; he is a high school football coach.

Presumably any coach in Lakota country has an interesting story to share, would make for a pretty good feature story, but there is something about Big Crow that makes him unique, that resists the validation of labels, resulting in a journey of stumbling blocks, failures and frustrations that ended with a football season for the ages, few other coaches could have engineered, and no other coach could have personally epitomized.

Big Crow did not become the coach he is through normal channels, did not play college ball, get an education degree, work his way up the ladder through successful, well managed programs, chock full of football savvy strategists who understand every X and O nuance of the clipboard.

After he was graduated from Holy Rosary in 1976, now called Red Cloud Indian School, Big Crow worked in the kitchen of schools where college educated coaches coached the football team. He wasn’t even the chief cook and bottle washer. He was just a guy, the kind of guy you feel comfortable around, because he never puts on airs, never tries to be big shot at some poor sap’s expense.

His life isn’t a playbook, he does not expertly execute carefully conceived plays; he just tries to get on with living. He is a pretty husky guy, and a good enough baseball player to survive three cuts for an Oakland A’s farm team. He’s a pretty good basketball player, too, in fact, he’s pretty good at just about anything he attempts athletically, but like everything else, he does things in a simple, take-it-as-it-comes way.

For example, he explains what he did in the years before he became a football coach. He says he played some basketball, some baseball, but it is when he talks about how he, “rode bulls. Just whenever I felt like it, when I got the urge,” that we see the Big Crow other people mistake for someone unskilled, disorganized, uncommitted to excellence.


Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: His aunt called him ‘Syrup’

(Contact James Giago Davies at skindiesel@msn.com)

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