Courtesy Haskell University
Ron Rousseau plays for Haskell University and served in Afghanistan

Haskell Student Athletes Use Military Experience to Excel in Sports

Rodney Harwood
5/2/14

The shrapnel in PFC Chris Turley’s knee is a constant reminder that he answered the warrior’s call with honor, earning both the U.S. Army Commendation Medal and a Purple Heart for his tour as an Army radio operator for a scout team in Afghanistan.

The discipline E5 Ron Rousseau learned serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (2011-12) gave him the confidence and discipline needed to finish up his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in only three years. He has been accepted into the University of Idaho College of Law.

And E2 Keli Warrior, who was named the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball freshman of the year, currently serves in the Army National Guard.

These three Haskell Indian Nations University student athletes are using their military experience to do great things in the classroom and on the athletic field. “I sent an e-mail to coach [Chad] Kills Crow saying I’m currently in Afghanistan and I want to play [basketball] at Haskell. He called me on an internet phone and said, ‘I appreciate your offer, but you’re the wrong kind of Indian,’” Rousseau said with a laugh.

Haskell Indian Nations University graduate Ron Rousseau served a tour in Afghanistan.(Courtesy of Ron Rousseau)

“I guess he thought I was a Middle Eastern Indian or something. That’s one of the highlights. Coach and I still laugh about that. They welcomed me with open arms and I loved my experience here.”

Once they sorted out that the 6-foot-8, 225-pound center from Ridgeview, South Dakota, was Cheyenne River Sioux, Kills Crow put the big Lakota to good use. Rousseau averaged a double-double this past season, including 18 rebounds and 11 points in a 106-99 victory over Arkansas’ Central Baptist.

“When I was in Afghanistan, I don’t know if it was a scared feeling or a proud feeling, but I knew what my job was,” said Rousseau, who is a seventh generation descendant of Hunkpapa leader Gall. “The military showed me to never give up, to keep running the extra mile. Before the military, I never knew I could do a five-mile run with a 30-pound pack.”

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