By Dan Ninham
Skylar Little Soldier is one of the elite wrestlers in her weight class in the country. She will be a junior at Hastings High School in Welch, MN. She identifies with the Hidatsa and Arikara tribes of the Three Affiliated Tribes.
Little Soldier was the 2022 U17 Pan American Championship’s 57kg silver medalist in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 25.
She was the Cadet World Team Trial runner-up, two-time 16U Fargo National Champion and four-time Fargo All American. Little Soldier was also the 2022 Minnesota High School Girls State champion.
“My indigenous core values define who I am in practice and competition by pushing me to work hard and having a good work ethic,” said Little Soldier. “I make sure to have fun as well.”
“My current plan is to train for Super 32 in October and for Cadet World Team Trials in May,” said Little Soldier. “My future plans are to continue training to make an Olympic Team in the upcoming years.”
Little Soldier has advice for her growing fan base of young indigenous athletes. She said, “Have fun. No matter what it is you are doing with sports you have to remember to enjoy it.
The whole point of sports is to just have fun.”
Little Soldier’s coaches know that she brings her best mindset every day to the mats.
The Victory School of Wrestling in River Falls, WI is a USA Wrestling-sanctioned wrestling club and have been training elite female wrestlers for 15 years. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have several age-level and senior-level national team and world team members, including Olympic gold medalist and medal winners at various international tournaments,” said Kevin Black, one of the coaches at The Victory School of Wrestling.
“Currently, we have athletes on the U17, U23, and senior US National Teams.”
“(We are) providing her with an overall vision and plan for training for success at national and international competitions,” added Black.
“I do my best to push Skylar to her breaking points when I work with her,” said Derek Miller, owner of the Victory School of Wrestling. “I try to bring the mental toughness that I know she has out of her in a positive light.”
Jens Lantz, former wrestler at the University of Wisconsin, also works with Little Solder at the Victory School of Wrestling. He said, “Skylar is a very self-motivated individual with clearly defined goals, so I just remind her of those goals and reinforce how good she is. I occasionally text Skylar with phrases like, “2023 World Champ” to let her know I believe in her and her goals and it’s been exciting to see the way she responds to that motivation.”
“Skylar’s drive, determination to succeed, and work ethic have been the reason why she has been the first girl to accomplish so many things in a Hastings singlet,” said Tim Haneberg, head wrestling coach at Hastings HS. “Skylar is one of the hardest workers in the high school room and consistently finds the toughest practice partners who continually push her and expand her wrestling skills.”
Luke Vaith, head coach of the Hastings Wrestling Club said, “I started working with Skylar when she was in kindergarten and from the moment I met Skylar she let me know that one day she was going to wrestle in the Olympics. Her goals were obviously very high but year over year I have had the pleasure of watching her become more focused, determined and disciplined in efforts to one day reach her goals.”
“Skylar has become an elite athlete because of her positive attitude and her great work ethic,” said Paul Vaith, Hastings HS assistant wrestling coach. “She only asks for two things, a place to train and the opportunity to compete. Her burning desire to be the very best makes her a great student of the sport.”
Cory Schmitz was one of the girls’ coaches for Team Minnesota at the freestyle national championships in Fargo, ND. He said, “There is no limit to what Skylar can accomplish in her already amazing career and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here,” said Schmitz.
See Little Soldier in action on the mat: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mUfPZbzZUqc