Ashaun Roach-Valandra Finding Success At The End Of Long Journey
Karl’s TV & Appliance Athlete of the Week
DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Ashaun Roach-Valandra seems to play every game as though it might be his last.
“He’s got something deep down that you just can’t take away from him. He’s an unbelievable guy to stop and he’s been one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with.” Dell Rapids Saint Mary Senior Connor Libis says.
Perhaps because he knows how close he came to not playing at all this year.
“Put your heart into it, you can do whatever you want. And that’s my motto, just play with heart every single day. I’m grateful for every day I wake up.” Dell Rapids Saint Mary Senior Ashaun Roach-Valandra says.
A native of the Rosebud reservation, Ashaun had been going to school at Todd County and was eager to play his senior year of football and basketball. That all changed last July when the school district cancelled it’s fall, and later winter, activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To play, Roach-Valandra knew he’d have to leave home, and in August he got in touch with some friends from Dell Rapids Saint Mary.
“I knew Sam Palmer out here and Max Herber and we just got connected and yeah, it was kind of a tough, heart wrenching decision. But I just came out here and took a long shot.” Ashaun says.
Being the new kid in school can always be difficult, especially within Cardinal teams that had large senior classes.
“You know maybe take a spot away from somebody or someone working hard. Ashaun stepping in, I think as a group we’ve accepted him and it’s kind of a family atmosphere here.” Dell Rapids Saint Mary Basketball Coach Colby Fitzgerald says.
Though he fit in with his new team, Roach-Valandra’s old one remains close to his heart.
“I think there’s a lot of stuff that South Dakotans, especially east of the river, they don’t understand, they don’t know. They don’t understand what the reservation is, they don’t understand what it’s about. It’s been a great eye opening experience to learn that stuff and learn that culture.” Libis says.
“I feel like I’m representing my whole tribe out there. Just me as a person because there are people around here that only know me from Rosebud Sioux Tribe, so I feel like I represent my family and my tribe out there.” Roach-Valandra says.
And Ashaun has no doubt made them proud. After helping lead Saint Mary’s football team to a state runner-up finish in the fall he’s helped the Cardinal basketball team go 16-4 and finish as the fourth ranked team in the state.
“I got a scholarship to University of Sioux Falls to go play football there in Division Two. It’s opened a lot of doors for me and I’m very thankful for it. Just do what your heart desires and just do whatever you want.” Ashaun says.
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