From Lower Brule to AustraliaBy Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
nativesunnews.today PIERRE – A Kul Wicasa (Lower Brule Sioux) basketball player has been invited to play in Australia for the Down Under Sports 30th annual basketball tournament in July and seeks community support. Maleighya Estes, daughter of Sharonna LeCompte and John Estes, is an 8th grade basketball star and one of just a handful that has been selected to represent the State of South Dakota in Australia for the July 16-26, 2018 basketball tournament. Estes began her young basketball career playing in Lyman, South Dakota,, but her family made the decision to transfer her to Lower Brule. “She has always gone to school in Lyman, but Lyman became known to be a little racist when it came to sports,” said her mother, Sharonna. “She wanted to be given the chance to spread her wings in the sport she loves. That’s exactly the chance they (Lower Brule) gave her.” Often times, Native American athletes who attend off-reservation, mostly-white schools are overlooked when it comes to sports. This lack of opportunity to play can take college and scholarship opportunities from deserving student athletes. As an 8th grader in Lower Brule, Maleighya has started for the Lower Brule Lady Sioux High School varsity basketball team. “In one game this season against White River, Maleighya made 41 points. On Maxpreps, currently she is ranked 9th in the state of South Dakota and 5th in her division. That’s pretty amazing for an 8th grader!” said her mother.
Since beginning to learn to walk, Maleighya has been an active and adventurous young woman who has always wanted to learn and new things and not be defined by the social constructs and gender roles, according to Sharonna. “She’s never been scared to get out there and get dirty, get bucked off or let anyone tell her she can’t because ‘she’s a girl’. She will do it and prove everyone wrong,” her mother proudly proclaimed. On and off the court, Maleighya has excelled in her studies and for being a sister to her five siblings. “She has always been such a great kid with a good head on her shoulders… She has always been on the A Honor Roll. With her free time, she would rather be practicing and getting better at mostly basketball but also whatever interest may arise,” said the mother. As a symbol of her strength and endurance, the first time Maleighya got on a bull, she won first place. Other sports the 8th grader has played in include softball, team ropes, barrel races, wild horse races, track and volley ball. “Who knows what she will take up next. There’s no limit!” said the proud mother.
Being invited to a tournament on another continent is one thing. Paying for the trip is another. Maleighya’s family has reached out to the tribal council and tribal leaders for some assistance in paying for the trip to Australia in July. Much to their disappointment, they have not received any financial help from the tribe to date. “Everyone wants to talk about youth, helping youth, doing for youth because they are the future, but when it comes to really help, there are crickets (silence),” said Sharonna. “Especially when she’s trying to do something positive.” Maleighya is hoping to raise $10,000 for her trip to Australia. This includes airfare, lodging and dining for the 11-day tournament. Her mother has started a Facebook campaign to help with donations.
Included in the many awards and achievements in Maleighya’s sports career include: All-Tourney at the 2017 Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) tournaments, 2017 LNI Sportsmanship Award (all teams together), Dakota Oyate Challenge (DOC) 2017 Championship, All-Tourney at DOC 2017, and Ms. High Scorer at DOC 2017 (tied with another player for most points). Sharonna LeCompte is a single mother of six children and also raises two nieces. She has a deserving daughter on her hands with great athletic ability and feels the tournament in Australia in July would be the motivation her daughter needs to continue with her goals of being a star student athlete. At the time of the writing of this article, the Facebook fundraiser total was at $1,420. If you would like to make a contribution, please visit the Facebook link or have a family member help guide you through the process of making a donation. Contact Native Sun News Today Correspondent Richie Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright permission Native Sun News Today