Character Counts! Scholarship

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About the Scholarship

2023 Scholarship Deadline: Friday, May 5

The Big Sky State Games has teamed up with the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition and Mountain Alarm Fire and Security 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 Mountain Alarm Fire and Security.

Over the past twenty-two 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 2022-2023 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 fill out the application below. It will also be available at all Montana High Schools Guidance Counselor offices.

    Online Scholarship Form

About the 2022 Winners

The Big Sky State Games selected Ella Breen of Laurel High School, Kaiya Graves of Laurel High School, Mya Maack of Laurel High School, Tucker Rice of Billings Skyview High School, and Teylor Ronish of Billings Senior High School as the recipients of the 2022 Big Sky State Games Character Counts! Scholarship. The $500 scholarship winners were recognized at the 37th Annual Big Sky State Games Opening Ceremonies event.

The winners were selected based on their character, community involvement, and participation in sports. Character Counts! promotes sportsmanship and fosters good character by teaching, enforcing, advocating, and modeling, the "Six Pillars of Character": trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship

Ella Breen

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 for three years. Highlighting her musical talents, Breen also received an award for being a top 10 musician in symphonic band. She works at Caring Hands Veterinary Clinic

Kaiya Graves

Kaiya Graves competed in both discus and shotput in the State Games for five years. Graves 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. She holds a 4.36 GPA. Graves has earned a combined total of six varisty letters in track and field, volleyball and basketball. She has officiated middle school athletics for four years and has extensive volunteer experience.

Mya Maack

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

Tucker Rice has participated in numerous Big Sky State Games sports since 2016, including swimming, open water swimming, youth triathlon and team trialthlon. 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

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. He has a cumulative GPA of 4.5. Ronish works as a soccer coach for the Billings United kid’s camp, Timber’s Youth League and Real Billings.

Previous Winners

 Year Name City
2021 Sierra Nagle Circle
  Dayton Magone Billings
  Parker Friday Billings
  Ryan Dolan Billings
  Bailey Graves Laurel
2020 Ruff Elton Red Lodge
  Connor Chase Billings
  Morgan Maack Laurel
  Kylie Zimmer Fergus
  Riley Gilsdorf Billings
2019 Sam George Billings
  Emily Poole Huntley
  Audrey Sipler Big Sandy
  Jessica Swandal Billings
2018 Devin Amtmann Butte
  Karter Bernhardt Billings
  Loren Murphy Huntley Project
  Shea Dolan Billings
  Hannah Hirschi Billings
2017 Maysen Whitney Billings
  Madison Gilsdorf Billings
  Makenzy Gilsdorf Billings
  Skyler Robinson Baker
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   Sidney
    Shane Hensleigh   Colstrip
2000   Jenny Doely   Billings
    Jeff Graham   Chester