BILLINGS - Five high school juniors have been selected from a pool of statewide applicants as Big Sky State Games Character Counts! Scholarship winners, the organization announced.
"Selecting students who are finishing their junior year in high school ensures that the winners may be observed as role models during their senior year," the BSSG release stated.
Ella Breen, Kaiya Graves and Mya Maack, each from Laurel High School, are recipients along with Tucker Rice of Billings Skyview and Teylor Ronish of Billings Senior.
Character Counts! promotes sportsmanship fostering good character by teaching, enforcing, advocating, and modeling, the “Six Pillars of Character": trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. This is the third year a fifth scholarship — in memory of deceased BSSG softball commissioner Wayne Ware — was awarded. The winners were selected based on their character, community involvement, and participation in sports.
The $500 scholarship winners will be recognized at the 37th Annual Big Sky State Games Opening Ceremonies Friday, July 15, at Wendy's Field at Daylis Stadium in Billings. Festivities begin at 7 p.m. for Opening Ceremonies.
Scholarship recipients, alphabetically:
Ella Breen, an 11-year participant of the Big Sky State Games, has found great success on the soccer field as well as in the classroom. She has a 4.2 GPA and has been on Honor Roll for three years. She earned the AAA (Athletics, Academics and Attitude) Award for soccer and Academic All-State honors for three years. Highlighting her musical talents, Breen also received an award as a top 10 musician in symphonic band. She is eager to purse a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and has spent time working at Caring Hands Veterinary Clinic in Billings.
Kaiya Graves competed in both discus and shotput in the State Games for five years. She is Laurel High School’s student council secretary and has lettered in student council for three years. She has earned the AAA Award three years in a row, Academic All-State honors six times, the Principal’s Leadership Award in 2019, and was this year’s Science Olympiad: Division C State Champion. Graves holds a 4.36 GPA and has earned a combined total of six varsity letters in track and field, volleyball and basketball. She has officiated middle school athletics for four years and has extensive volunteer experience.
Mya Maack has participated in Big Sky State Games 3v3 soccer for nine years, and track and field for two years. Her athletic accomplishments include receiving Academic All-State honors for multiple sports for three years, receiving All-State honors for soccer for three years, and being named her soccer team’s Offensive MVP two years in a row. Maack is also a member of National Honor Society and holds a 4.27 GPA. She has worked at The Snow Shack for two years in customer relations and social media management.
Tucker Rice has participated in numerous Big Sky State Games sports since 2016, including swimming, open water swimming, youth triathlon and team triathlon. Earning a 4.53 GPA at Skyview High School, Rice received Academic All-State honors in swimming and was inducted into National Honors Society. He worked as an intern at High Plains Architects last summer.
Teylor Ronish has participated in a variety of Big Sky State Games since 2013, including soccer, basketball and cornhole. He received the American Legion Award in addition to two Principal Awards. Ronish is a member of National Honor Society and received Academic All-State honors and has a cumulative GPA of 4.5. He works as a soccer coach for the Billings United soccer kids camp and has spent time with Timber’s Youth League and Real Billings Soccer.