Character Counts! Scholarship

About the Scholarship

The Big Sky State Games has teamed up with the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition and Kenco Security and Technology to recognize the importance of sportsmanship and character in Montana student athletes. CHARACTER COUNTS! is a nonprofit organization striving to improve the character of today’s youth. It is based on common ethical values that transcend political, religious, socio-economic, and cultural differences. Called the “Six Pillars of Character,” these values are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Character Counts! Scholarship is sponsored by Kenco Security and Technology.

Over the past eleven years, the Big Sky State Games has awarded the Character Counts! Scholarship to outstanding Montana female and male student-citizen-athletes involved in the Big Sky State Games. The scholarship can be used for any secondary education after high school. This includes trade schools and community colleges.

Only high school juniors during the 2016-2017 school year are eligible for this scholarship. This is to ensure that fellow students can observe the scholarship winners during their senior year and to recognize the traits the students show. You can download the application below. It will also be available at all Montana High Schools Guidance Counselor offices.

Download 2017 Scholarship Form

Presented By:

About the 2016 Winners

The Big Sky State Games has selected Cory Kistler of Huntley Project High School, Mick Mattie of Billings West High School, Kelsey Kraft of Laurel High School, and Hailey Poole of Colstrip High School as the recipients of the 2016 Big Sky State Games Character Counts! Scholarship. The $500 scholarship winners will be recognized at the 31th Annual Big Sky State Games Opening Ceremonies event Friday, July 15. The winners were chosen based on their character, community involvement, and participation in sports. By embracing CHARACTER COUNTS! the Big Sky State Games has taken a proactive approach to building character through athletics.


Cory Kistler

Cory Kistler has competed in the Big Sky State Games from 2010 - 2014, in wrestling (4years) and equestrian (2 years). As a member of the 4-H club, Kistler spends much of his time on his projects which include: horses, pigs, and goats. Kistler honors include: Academic All State in Football 2015, All Conference in Football 2014 and 2015, and All State and All Conference in Wrestling 2013, 2014, and 2015. He is also the FFA Green Horn Award winner and has been on the Honor Roll for all three years of High School. As Captain of his Wrestling team, Kistler serves as a leader, something he has taken very seriously as it is his dream to wrestle in College. With his 4-H club, Kistler makes May baskets to take to senior citizens every year along with valentine cards. As a member of the High School Wrestling Program, Kistler spends time with and takes small gifts to people in a few of the nursing homes around town as a part of their ‘grandparent program’. His other activities include FFA, AAU Wrestling, along with Track and Football at Huntly Project High School.


Mick Mattie

Mick Mattie has participated in the Big Sky State Games Tennis event for seven years and Table Tennis event for two years. He is a member of the National Honor Society, West High Schools Science Bowl, and Varsity Tennis teams. He is currently one of the top two singles competitors on the Billings West team and envisions playing in college. As a sophomore, Mattie won the Best Alternative Energy Project Award and the Passive Solar Heating Project Award from the Billings Clinic Science Expo with his science fair project. Mattie is also an active member of Billings West Pep Band, Speech and Debate as well as participating in Amnesty International and being a Freshman Mentor. He currently is ranked #1 out of 413 students in his class at West High.


Kelsey Kraft

Kelsey Kraft has participated in the Big Sky State Games for 11 years in Dance Sports. During this time she has won: 69 gold, 11 silver and 2 bronze medals, and claimed the Overall Student Choreography Award at the 2013 Games. Kraft has many accomplishments in school, clubs and organizations, with some of her most notable being in clog dancing, and FFA. She is her FFA Chapter President and has previously served as the Chapter Reporter (2014-2015) and Secretary (2014-2015). She has won numerous awards in Career Development Events and Livestock shows. She won the Clog Dancing Teacher Award from 2013-2016 as well as being an All American Team Recipient at the America on Stage Clogging Competition in 2015, Top three individual solo 2013 – 2105, top three short duet 2013-2014 and performed a national qualifying dance routine 2014-2015. She is also part of the National Honor Society, Link Crew, BPA, and 4-H Club.


Hailey Poole

Hailey Poole has participated in the Big Sky State Games for eight years competing in Track and Field (eight years), Volleyball (four years) and Swimming (two years) and looks forward to continuing to participate in the years to come. Poole is a member of the National Honor Society. She earned All State Academic Honors in 2015 along with All State Volleyball 2014-2015 and All Conference Volleyball 2013 – 2015. She received the Letterman Awards in Volleyball 2013 – 2015, Basketball 2013 – 2014 and Track 2014 – 2016 as well as making the All State Tournament team in Volleyball. Poole was the 2014 and 2016 State Class B Track Champion in Javelin, setting the All Class State Record this year. In 2016 she was the Texas Relays Champion in Javelin. Poole’s other activities include volunteering in the community Christmas Market, Volleyball Camps, hosting Senior Citizen meals as well as leading a free Track Preparation Camp and working as a Volleyball referee.

Previous Winners

 Year Name City
2016 Cory Kistler Huntley Project
  Mick Mattie Billings
  Kelsey Kraft Laurel
  Hailey Poole Colstrip
2015 Spencer Drange Laurel
  Jacob Michels Shepherd
  Hannah Amtmann Butte
  Abbigail Lohof Laurel
2014 Madison McLaughlin Helena
  Solenn Jacobsen Baker
  Wylie Leo Ennis
  Michael Buster Laurel
2013 Mikaela Robinson Billings
  Sara Heard Billings
  James Riley Broadus
  Logan Laird Billings
2012 Ashton McLaughlin Helena
  Martha Dembek Winnett
  Michael Schwehr Lavina
  Nick Staffileno Billings
2011 Alain Jacobsen Baker
  Zach Holmes Billings
  Brianna Jo Robinson Billings
  Emily Grace Walker Huntley
2010 Lindsey Fleming Billings
  Taylor Kufeld Billings
  Ryan Hensleigh Colstrip
  Anthony Bengochea Nashua
2009 Ashley Crowe Billings
  Kacie Chatwood Billings
  Thomas Bonogofsky Belfry
  Thomas Staffileno Billings
2008 Cord Blanchard Great Falls
  Emily Carroll Billings
  Kylie Medicine Horse Pryor
  Tim Kienitz Billings
2007 Auriele Fain Billings
  Casey Rogers Billings
    Stephanie Stremcha Havre
  Rick Haluszka Harlem
2006 Bridgett Hoenke Billings
  Leo Davis Billings
2005 Ashley Grammens Lavina
  Chad McMillan Billings
2004 Alexa McLaughlin Helena
  Josh Hedge Billings
2003 Allison Peterson Sidney
  Chris Blanchard Great Falls
2002 Sara Patterson Great Falls
  Patrick Riley Bozeman
2001   Hannah Warfield   Sydney
    Shane Hensleigh   Colstrip
2000   Jenny Doely   Billings
    Jeff Graham   Chester