BHSU student athlete showcases leadership on and off the field

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, January 28, 2015/Categories: 2015








           Black Hills State University student Eriq Swiftwater, business administration major from Oglala, studies in the E.Y. Berry Library on the BHSU campus. Swiftwater, who is a wide receiver on the Yellow Jacket football team, has shown exceptional leadership skills on and off the field, which were recognized by two national organizations during National Native American Heritage Month.  



Eriq Swiftwater is only a freshman at Black Hills State University, but already, he is taking the right steps to ensure a bright future.

Swiftwater, who is a business administration major and Yellow Jacket football player from Oglala, has made quite the impression during his first year at BHSU. Swiftwater quickly settled into a role of leadership and gained the respect of teammates, classmates and faculty and staff at the University.

Swiftwater&rsquos determination and leadership was recognized, recently, as a student spotlight feature during Native American Heritage Month. The spotlight was sponsored by the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education and the Center for Native American Youth. Both national organizations strive to enhance educational opportunities and the well-being of Native American and Alaskan Native youth.

Swiftwater grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota, and throughout his childhood he&rsquos faced challenges from spending time in foster care to helping his mother during her battle with cancer. Taking on a leadership role wasn&rsquot an option, it was a necessity for Swiftwater. His leadership capabilities further developed when he joined the high school football team.

Swiftwater said that with his knack for leadership and future business degree from BHSU he hopes to build a better economy and motivate youth in his hometown.

"My dream is just to develop a fully functional business that will benefit my community in any way possible," Swiftwater said.

Swiftwater would like to start an organization similar to a Boys and Girls Club. The organization would allow youth to have somewhere to go after school or during the weekends. The club also would create opportunities to play sports, study and socialize with other youth.

He added that with his love of sports, he&rsquod like to coach basketball, as well. Swiftwater has played basketball since the first grade.

Although Swiftwater is only starting his academic career at BHSU, he is applying what he&rsquos learned to enhance the lives of youth in Oglala.

Each summer Swiftwater returns home and works with youth during summer sports camps. He also helped revamp the softball field in his hometown.

"I&rsquom always willing to help out and put out my helping hand," Swiftwater said. "I want to help kids do better for themselves and push kids to have a better future."

And his Native American heritage has been one of the largest driving forces behind his success.

"It&rsquos what I represent," Swiftwater said. "I always tell people I&rsquom Native American. I try to keep our culture alive by teaching and practicing ceremonies with the youth I work with."

"Eriq is a great mentor to young kids," said John Reiners, head football coach at BHSU. "He&rsquos had to overcome a lot in life and has the mentality that no matter what you&rsquore up against you can always persevere and see light at the end of the tunnel and know good things will happen to you."

A wide receiver for the Yellow Jackets, Swiftwater has done nothing but earn the respect of his fellow teammates and set an example for other athletes in the BHSU athletics program.

As a freshman, the Yellow Jackets football team voted Swiftwater onto the Yellow Jackets Leadership Council and named him offense service team player of the week several times during the 2014 season.

"It&rsquos his ability to communicate and interact with not only his freshmen class, but the kids above him," Reiners said. "He gained a lot of respect from upperclassmen. He stands out in everything he does. I see outstanding things for Eriq&rsquos future."

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