Story by Nate Wek
There are many high school athletes in South Dakota who not only succeed in the sport they love, but are just as dedicated when it pertains to academics.
One of these kids is Kyla Crow, a senior girls basketball player for the Oelrichs Tigers.
It’s not just her performance off the court or her zealous attitude in the classroom that makes Kyla stand out. It’s her discipline to be great in everything she does.
In 2018, Kyla flirted with a triple-double in almost every girl’s basketball game – meaning her points, assists, and rebounds numbers were consistently showing up during games.
Outside of athletics, she has stayed committed to her schoolwork, displaying an impressive 3.5 average grade point average.
Kyla doesn’t just play girls basketball at Oelrichs. She also plays volleyball, competes in track & field, and was a cheerleader for the boys’ basketball team. To put this into context, if the boys and girls basketball teams of Oelrichs had a double-header, she’d play basketball one game, and then change into her cheerleading outfit for the other.
Dale Pine Jr. is the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Oelrichs high school. He has enjoyed the opportunity to work with Kyla this year, and said she’s the prime example of what having a good attitude can do.
“She’s been a really positive person to get to know and to be around,” explained Pine. “She never talks back, never questions what you say – she just does the work. If we run 30 sprints at practice, she’ll do them and she won’t complain at all.”
For Kyla, she believes sports made her high school journey more enjoyable. If schoolwork was weighing her down, athletics would give her a release from it.
“Classes sometimes get frustrating and all that, but with basketball going on, it’s something to take your mind off of all the work,” said Kyla.
For Kyla, Coach Pine, and the rest of the Oelrichs girls’ basketball squad, this was an exciting year. The team finished with an 11-9 record on the regular season and even took down Edgemont 40-34 in the opening round of the Region 7B tournament. The Tigers would lose in the second round to Lower Brule, who advanced to the “Round of 16” a week later.
In January, Kyla received some exciting news that no other girls or boys basketball player in South Dakota received. She was being nominated to the McDonald’s All-American Girls Basketball team.
“That was surprising because I know a lot of great basketball players,” said Kyla. “Coach surprised me, and I didn’t know exactly what it was at first. Then once he told me more about it, I got even more excited.”
Even though Kyla wasn’t selected as a finalist for the award, a nomination at that level still holds a tremendous amount of value. Students nominated for the McDonald’s All-American team must display strong traits in passion, leadership, academics, and skills.
Of the four traits, Coach Pine sees leadership stand out with Kyla. He said having a leader like her on the team was almost like having another coach out there.
“She was elected a captain from the get-go, and one of the main reasons was because of her qualities,” said Pine. “We have a pretty young team, and when some of the girls get down, Kyla is there being positive and helping pick them back up.”
As a senior, Kyla’s high school career is nearing an end. In the fall she plans to attend the University of Jamestown in North Dakota. It may be a shock to some, but instead of basketball, she plans to play volleyball at the collegiate level.
“They didn’t know I wanted to play volleyball when I went on my visit, and then one of the instructors told the volleyball coach about me,” said Kyla. “Right now, I think they only have one setter, and since that’s also the position that I play, most of the current players are excited about that.”
Academically, Kyla plans to major in nursing, because she wants to help people. Coach Pine Jr. said he’s excited to see what the future holds for Kyla, but also knows he’ll miss spending time with her.
“She lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation and commutes every day. She is just so dedicated to everything” said Pine. “To see her grow over the years and to turn into the young lady that she is today has been really fun to see.”
As Kyla graduates and moves into the college student-athlete phase of her life, her story will continue to inspire folks in Oelrichs and throughout South Dakota.
Senior Kyla Crow of Oelrichs High School holds up her McDonald's All-American nomination certificate.