Vol. 54, No. 3 March 2017 .pdf version
Ed Graney: Passing the gavel
Joe Mitch: Full Court Press will educate
Koenig's social activism is Most Courageous
Cafarelli named Katha Quinn winner
CoSIDA's Kowal named Haverbeck winner
Gardner joining Bleacher Report with Rising Star award
Kentucky, UCLA freshmen named to watch lists
Task force will consider website endorsements

Koenig's social activism is Most Courageous

By MIKE WATERS / Syracuse Post-Standard
Third Vice President

Bookmark and Share  

The American poet E.E. Cummings once wrote, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."


Those words describe the journey of Bronson Koenig, a senior guard at Wisconsin and this year's winner of the USBWA's Most Courageous Award.

Last summer, Koenig closely examined who he really was. He's a Native American member of the Ho-Chunk tribe.

While working out with a friend in Los Angeles, Koenig kept hearing reports and watching videos about the Native Americans who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, N.D.

The issue struck a nerve.

"It's two things. One is human rights and the other is the drinking water," Koenig said. "It's all Lakota land. They're putting the pipeline through Lakota land. I think the U.S. has made 566 treaties with the Native Americans and not honored one of them. With this issue, they're not honoring two or three of the treaties.

More from the USBWA:
Credentialing Application
Scholarship Application
Renew your membership

"And the concerns about the impact on the drinking water. The water brings people life. It brings Mother Earth life. Native Americans have a spiritual connection to Mother Earth. We don't own a certain piece of land. We're here to be caretakers of the land and Mother Earth."

Koenig saw the images coming out of Standing Rock and wondered why there wasn't more outrage.

"I wanted to raise awareness," Koenig said. "I thought it would be a great experience to go out there and be with all those people.

"But I also thought I had no chance to get there because of my schedule."

Then Koenig's brother, Miles, said he planned on going. A weekend opened up for Bronson in September. Koenig's training partner, Clint Parks, was on board, too.

"We all drove to Standing Rock together," Koenig said.

Koenig was not prepared for what he saw at Standing Rock. The camps were far removed from the protests, but the number of people went into the thousands. Entire families were living in large encampments.

With Parks' help, Koenig planned to put on a basketball clinic for the Native American children at Standing Rock. But even before the clinic, Koenig got an inkling of just how important his appearance would be.

The three arrived right at dusk. The protest sites were 30 minutes away. They drove through the reservation and spotted some kids shooting at a rickety hoop on an outdoor court.

Parks wanted to ask the kids if they were going to the basketball clinic the next day.

"Yeah," said one boy. "If we can get a ride."

Then Parks pointed to Koenig and asked the boys if they knew who he was.

"Bronson, he plays for Wisconsin," the boy said.

"I could barely make their faces out and they knew who I was," Koenig said recalling his first interaction with the people at Standing Rock.

The response to Bronson's clinic was so great that the reservation's indoor gym wasn't big enough. So he added an outdoor clinic with a makeshift hoop on a court of patted down grass.

A classmate who was interning with the Players Tribune put him in touch with a writer there. That story sparked more stories of the star player of Native American descent getting involved in a controversial social issue.

"I didn't really know exactly what I was getting myself into," Koenig said. "I didn't realize my going there would create such a buzz. I didn't know it was that big a deal."

Koenig has experienced some negative reaction.

"Honestly, people are cowards," he said. "I didn't get a lot of direct negative feedback, but I'd read or one of my friends would show me the negative comments on the articles written about me. There were a lot. Just ignorant comments. 'Stupid liberal.' 'Go drink your firewater.' 'How are you getting to the protest? Hope you're riding a horse.' Stupid stuff like that."

But any negativity has been over-shadowed by the positive response.

February 2021
December 2020
June 2020
January 2020
November 2019
May 2019
March 2019
January 2019
November 2018
May 2018
March 2018
January 2018
November 2017
May 2017
March 2017
January 2017
November 2016
May 2016
March 2016
January 2016
November 2015
May 2015
March 2015
January 2015
November 2014
May 2014
March 2014
January 2014
November 2013
May 2013
March 2013
January 2013
November 2012
May 2012
March 2012
January 2012
November 2011
August 2011
May 2011
March 2011
February 2011
November 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
November 2009
May 2009
April 2009
February 2009
November 2008
May 2008
April 2008
February 2008
November 2007
May 2007
March 2007
February 2007
November 2006
May 2006
March 2006
January 2006
November 2005
May 2005 (.pdf)
March 2005 (.pdf)
January 2005 (.pdf)
November 2004 (.pdf)
May 2004 (.pdf)
March 2004 (.pdf)
January 2004 (.pdf)
November 2003 (.pdf)
May 2003 (.pdf)
March 2003 (.pdf)
January 2003 (.pdf)
November 2002 (.pdf)
January 2002 (.pdf)
November 2001 (.pdf)