The Hardwood Road to Success Goes Through Augustana (and Letcher)

The fields, crops, and cattle are seemingly endless in Sanborn County. Open space stretches for miles in east-central South Dakota where life is simple and the values are pure. The entire county holds just over 2,000 people, and in the town of Letcher, that number drops to less than 200. With minimal distractions, one of the best ways to stay busy is by spending time on the Selland property.

Dating back nearly five decades, the family farm is also home to an old barn converted into a gym. Equipped with hardwood floors, the full-court setup features a scoreboard, bleachers, and even lockers. It was here — on a homemade court in Letcher — that Shelby Selland, along with her younger sister Myah and a few cousins, fell in love with the game of basketball. “That is where it all started,” Selland said. “It was never forced on us, but we spent so many hours and nights on those courts just bonding with family — that’s how I grew to love the game.”

Basketball at the barn eventually led to high school basketball at Sanborn Central-Woonsocket, where Shelby racked up more than 1,500 points, 600 rebounds and nearly every award possible. During her senior year, she was named an Argus Leader First Five award winner as well as the Class ‘B’ Basketball Player of the Year in South Dakota.

After her prep career, and with numerous college offers, Shelby chose to attend Augustana University to continue her basketball journey. “Growing up, I always liked Augustana and then during the recruiting process, I found out that the school has so much to offer. It’s a great location, great academics, and a tradition of athletic success,” Selland stated. Fast forward four years later, and Shelby has not only made a tremendous impact on the court but also found success in the classroom and community.

On the hardwood, the senior has started in 88 games, averaging more than eight points and five rebounds per game. With her senior year still left, Shelby is already 27th all-time in total rebounds, and eighth all-time in career blocks with 125. With great footwork, a knack for the glass and a relentless work ethic, Shelby helped lead the Vikings to an historic 2017-2018 season as Augustana won the NSIC tournament title and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Division II tournament. Additionally, head coach Dave Krauth won his 600th game during the regular season, making him the sixth active head coach with 600 or more wins and the 15th coach all-time to do so in Division II.

Shelby, an elementary education major and a math and accounting minor, is equally impressive away from the backboard glass and burnt orange rims. In April of 2018, she was awarded the Covenant Award for Liberal Arts. A significant tradition at Augustana, the Covenant Awards are named in honor of each of the university’s five core values: Christian, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community, and Service. Selland, who was nominated by her campus peers and selected by a committee of faculty and staff, was humbled and honored to receive the award. 

“There are so many students at Augie who deserve this award,” Selland said, “it’s truly a representation of my professors and the support system around me. My professors and advisors have supported me throughout my entire journey, and always encouraged me to pursue anything that I’m passionate about."

With tremendous academic accomplishments and athletic achievements, Shelby is a true example of what it means to ‘Build a Champion’ and be a student-athlete at Augustana. After graduation this spring, Shelby plans to remain in South Dakota for a little bit and watch her sister Myah, who is an All Conference guard at South Dakota State University. Regardless of where life takes her next, Shelby will always look back on her journey at Augustana with a smile. “It’s been an amazing ride here at Augustana. I truly wouldn’t trade it for the world.”