Recent graduate receives Inspirational Leadership Award

posted on June 6, 2012

Tiarra Little recently received a very special accolade at the state level.

The 2012 graduate was given an Inspirational Leadership Award at the South Dakota High School Athletic Association’s Elite 15 banquet last week. This is the first occasion that such an award has ever been given by the organization, and it may be the only time.

Little was chosen for the honor in light of both her impressive application and her global experiences and leadership. She was recognized for the athletic legacy that she has left at Red Cloud, as well as for the leadership experience she has gained outside the community.

An intrepid traveler, Little has journeyed to Israel, Cambodia and Nicaragua with several different leadership programs. One point she stressed in her Elite 15 application was how common athletic interests helped to bridge the cultural and linguistic gap in her travels, and was a universal language in each country in which she visited. These types of experiences allowed Tiarra to learn lessons that she would not have learned otherwise, which she was able to bring back with her and pass onto others, thus furthering intercultural understanding.

Little has grown up to be an inspiration to many and always tries to live by the words of her mother; “As long as you try your best, my girl, I will always be proud of you.” In discussing the reasons for presenting her with this special award, Jo Auch, Assistant Executive Director of the SDHSAA said the following:

“Tiarra has always been sure to lead by example in everything she does, especially sports. She has channeled that leadership into helping others around her to reach success. She has always had big dreams and they are beginning to unfold. Tiarra wants to show the youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that living out your dreams isn’t just in the movies, but can happen to anyone.

“It was for those fine leadership attributes that this special award was presented to Tiarra, as we felt she was such an inspiration to all, and we wanted to recognize her for her inspiration and the leadership skills that she is passing on to so many by being a great role model and being of service to so many around the world.”

The Elite 15 Banquet is the culminating event giving South Dakota an opportunity to let young women be honored and recognized as well as honoring those adults who have worked tirelessly to promote, support, and encourage younger female athletes. The program is administered under the guidance of a committee that strives to encourage participation and celebrate sports leaders.

The program was implemented in 1997 at a time when girls and women’s sports were not equal, and continues to help raise awareness of girls’ participation in athletics and to promote gender equity. The program provides an opportunity to honor female athletes statewide for their achievements in athletic ability, leadership, scholarship, and community involvement.