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Basketball action is birthday gift
Positive Message Included
By Tamera Marshall, Physical Specialist, Strengthening Lifestyles Program
25 July 2011

BISMARCK (UTN) - Fourteen-year-old Joelle Wise Spirit had a request for her mother. To celebrate her upcoming birthday, she passed along the idea of having a basketball tournament. It was a couple of months before and Joelle wanted to share a positive message with students her age about avoiding alcohol and drugs and preventing suicide.

Joelle Wise Spirit is in this group of tournament organizers, from left, Preston Wise Spirit, guest speaker Mark Wallevand, Joelle, Bobbie Jo Wise Spirit, and Didrick Wise Spirit.

      That’s how the Wise Spirit Youth Basketball Tournament came to be. On June 4, players on 12 teams hustled up and down the United Tribes gymnasium floor, dribbled and faked, passed and pressed, and hoisted up their shots in honor of Joelle Wise Spirit’s 15th birthday.

      Joelle’s mother, Bobbie Jo Wise Spirit, a recent UTTC graduate, had organized the event, along with other members of the prominent Standing Rock family from Cannonball, ND who are active in many campus-community activities.

      They invited UTTC Criminal Justice Instructor Mark Wallevand to give a cautionary talk about Joelle’s message to her peers. They printed up t-shirts, enlisted help from members of the family drum – Wise Spirit Singers – and handled the scorekeeping and public address announcing.

Wearing the tournament shirt: Joelle Wise Spirit, VoShaun Red Bear, Gracie Red Bear, Latonna White Face, Tyann Brave Bull, and Keya Fox. TAMERA MARSHALL United Tribes News

      It was all because Joelle was tired of hearing and reading about the suicides, and how they coincided with alcohol and drug use. Two years ago she lost a very close cousin to suicide. She was having trouble understanding it and why he couldn’t talk to someone. So, she decided it was important to reach out and let her peers know that it’s OK to talk to someone. A basketball tourney was her way of getting a group together and expressing that. And because she loves the game, of course.

      After the final buzzer of the final contest, Joelle was satisfied with the outcome of her birthday request. As long as she was able to help even one person, out of the many who attended, that would make her happy. She said she wanted to reach people who might be sad and depressed at times and encourage them to look on the bright side.

      Joelle knew that her birthday tournament was a gift that celebrated life and she wanted to share it with everyone around her, even people she didn’t know.

      Joelle will be a sophomore at Bismarck High School in the fall.

Fast paced, high flying action from players in the Wise Spirit Youth Basketball Tournament at United Tribes.DENNIS J. NEUMANN United Tribes News

Fast paced, high flying action from players in the Wise Spirit Youth Basketball Tournament at United Tribes. DENNIS J. NEUMANN United Tribes News












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