Associated Press
Bronson Koenig is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

‘Not Enough Long Hairs in College Hoops’ Sports Legends on Wisconsin Guard Bronson Koenig's NCAA Tourney

Rodney Harwood
4/9/15

The Wisconsin Badgers sophomore guard Bronson Koenig, Ho-Chunk Nation, played a big role in the team’s historic run for the NCAA championship against Duke on Monday night. The Badgers lost 68-64, but Koenig ended the season on a high note, scoring 10 points, including a big 3-point shot to start the second half; to give Indian country a taste of what the future holds for Badger fans.

Koenig was just the second Native American to play in the title game since Dee Ketchum (Delaware Tribe) played in the championship for the Kansas Jayhawks, and fans across Indian country left messages on social media and elsewhere congratulating Koenig on his performance in the semifinals and in the championship game.

In her post on the Ho-Chunk Nation Facebook page following Wisconsin’s 71-64 victory over Kentucky, Amy Sparck Dobmeier said, “WHAAAADAAAAP! So Proud of Bronson! President Greendeer, you have no better Ambassador for Health and Wellness and Native Pride than Ho-Chunk Native Bronson Koenig!” Fan Lexi Triana Lee Dixon said, “Great job Bronson! You are something I can be proud of, and I wish my son can be as great as you.”

ICTMN caught up with some of Indian country’s greatest athletes to hear what they are saying about Koenig's NCAA championship run.

Billy Mills, Olympic gold medalist

Tribe: Oglala Lakota

“I saw the Wisconsin-Kentucky game and it was exciting to watch,” Mills told ICTMN. “Any time you have someone that is recognized as being Native American at this level is nothing but positive. It gives a perspective to a younger ballplayer coming up on the reservation that it is possible to play college ball or make it to the NBA. They will also learn the tremendous amount of discipline and effort he put into getting where he is today. To that extent, he’s another catalyst in teaching our young people what is available, not only in the world of sports, but in getting a college degree.”

Notah Begay III, four-time winner on the PGA Tour/Golf Channel, NBC analyst

Tribe: Navajo/San Felipe/Isleta

“American Indian children are in desperate need of hope and positive role models,” said Begay, who was a three-time All-American at Stanford and played on the 1994 NCAA National Championship team. “Crippled with low graduation rates, high incidence of childhood obesity and the highest teen suicide rates in the country, it’s difficult for our children to ‘dream big’. Bronson Koenig represents the kind of inspiration that could propel a child to stay in school or dare to achieve at the highest level. Winning a national title and graduating from college were two of the greatest achievements of my life.”

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