About Us

Playing on the Plains
Sports and Recreation in South Dakota

South Dakota State Historical Society
2012 History Conference
April 13 - 14, 2012

Featured Speakers

Mel Antonen, second keynote speaker, graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls. He worked at the Argus Leader, covering sports, agriculture, and politics, then moved to USA Today and became a baseball reporter for twenty-five seasons. Currently, he writes for SI.com and does baseball analysis on MASN-TV, the station that covers the Nationals and Orioles, and on Sirius-XM Radio, a network with twenty-five million subscribers. He is a curator for the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in his home town of Lake Norden and a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Charles R. Berry, Jr., received a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech and served on the faculties of Utah State University and South Dakota State University; he also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey as a research scientist with the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit Program. He is an authority on the rivers and river fisheries of the northern Great Plains and has written extensively on South Dakota’s fish and aquatic resources, including serving as senior editor for the 2007 book History of Fisheries and Fishing in South Dakota.

John Cooper, first keynote speaker, was secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks for twelve years under two governors; he later served as Governor M. Michael Rounds’s senior policy advisor on Missouri River issues. He was also the first chairman of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes, as well as a senior policy advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center for climate change and wildlife-management issues. He also served twenty-two years with the Law Enforcement Division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, supervising special agents who enforced federal, state, and tribal wildlife laws.

Dennis Daugaard is the governor of South Dakota. He grew up in the Dell Rapids area, graduated from the University of South Dakota, and earned a law degree at Northwestern University (Chicago, Illinois). His career was first in banking and then, starting in 1990, he worked for the Children’s Home Foundation and Children’s Home Society of South Dakota, eventually becoming executive director. He has been involved in South Dakota government since 1996, when he was first elected to the state legislature. As governor, he presides over the iconic Governor’s Hunt, and he keenly appreciates the cultural and economic importance of pheasant hunting to South Dakota.

Wade Davies
is associate professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana. His areas of expertise include American Indian sports, games, health, and healing traditions. Past appointments include professorships or instructorships at San Juan College (Farmington, N.M.), Arizona State University, and Phoenix College (Phoenix, Ariz.). His article “‘We are looking for a splendid tournament here’: Sharon Mote’s Quest to Promote Indian-School Basketball, 1927–1929” appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of South Dakota History.

Mike Henriksen has been covering sports in South Dakota for over thirty years. With Mark Ovenden, he co-hosts a daily sports talk show, Calling All Sports. He also hosts Sportsmax, a weekly sports interview show. Mike has served as a play-by-play voice for the state high school championships on South Dakota Public Broadcasting for eleven years, and he is a member of the board of directors for the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. Henriksen was named the 2011 South Dakota Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Paul Higbee has been South Dakota Magazine’s Black Hills writer and columnist for twenty years, and he was the lead writer for South Dakota Public Televisions’s Emmy Award-winning history series for children, Dakota Pathways. He is part of Rapid City’s TIE Media Services, a producer of instructional television programming. He is a graduate of Black Hills State University and the University of Notre Dame, and he writes frequently for Notre Dame’s continuing education magazine.

Kurt Kemper is associate professor of arts and sciences at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, and has also served on the faculty of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. He earned his B.A. from the University of South Dakota, his M.A. from George Mason University, and his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. His areas of expertise include college sports and civil rights, and his most recent work is College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era. He is a member of the North American Society for Sport History.

Marilyn Kratz has been a freelance writer for forty-five years. She has had over five hundred stories, poems, and articles published in eighty different magazines, mostly for children; she also writes a nostalgia column for two weekly newspapers. She has had three children’s books and one pictorial history book published; her most recent book is Umpire in a Skirt, published by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. She is a retired elementary teacher and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

John Papendick’s career in journalism spans thirty-five years, the last twenty-five at the Aberdeen American News, where he is the managing news-sports editor. The Bridgewater, South Dakota, native and South Dakota State University graduate has been published in magazines, books, and newspapers across the nation. In 2002, Papendick and the sports staff at the American News produced an award-winning special section featuring all the high school team state champions in South Dakota from 1907 to 2002, a historical project more than three years in the making.


Jean L. S. Patrick is the author of nine books for young readers, including The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth. She also writes a weekly book column for the Mitchell Daily Republic and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Patrick holds a B.A. from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and an M.A. from Kansas State University. Her newest book is Mount Rushmore Memories, a collection that she compiled and edited for the Mount Rushmore Society.

B. Byron Price is the Charles Marion Russell Memorial Chair in art history at the University of Oklahoma and the director of both the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West and the University of Oklahoma Press. Price has served as the director of the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. He received degrees from the U.S. Military Academy and Texas Tech University and has written extensively on western American history and art.

Marc Rasmussen is a fourth-generation Dakotan, born in Aberdeen and raised in nearby Hecla. After receiving a B.S. from the University of South Dakota in 1981 and an M.B.A. from the Pacific Coast Banking School (Bellevue, Washington), Rasmussen began a thirty-year career in banking. He lives in Seattle. Starting research in support of his father’s nomination to the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, Rasmussen eventually authored the acclaimed book Six: A Football Coach’s Journey to a National Record, published in 2011 by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press.

Les Voorhis is one of South Dakota’s most prolific and widely published outdoor photographers, and he teaches photography classes and workshops around the United States. With Paul Higbee, he has collaborated on books featuring the Black Hills,
including Spearfish Canyon: A Journey beyond the Rim. In 2001, Profotos.com selected him as one of the top one hundred photographers in the country. With his wife Julaine, he owns Focus West Gallery in Spearfish, as well as a stock photo agency, Royal Tine Images.