Local Athlete, Teacher and Tribal Member Michaela Richbourg Featured in New Choctaw Nation Series, ‘Choctaw Proud’
Published March 6, 2023
DURANT, OK – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s new series of the Together, We’re More campaign titled ‘Choctaw Proud’ features different tribal members each month. This month Choctaw Nation spotlights tribal member Michaela Richbourg, a Broken Bow native and currently teaching and coaching in Allen.
Growing up in Broken Bow, Michaela remembers family hunting trips to the river and telling stories of the biggest deer they ever saw. At Thanksgiving, family elders cook Choctaw traditional foods like tanchi labona and banaha to share with everyone. In this close-knit family, Michaela found the love and support that is cherished among the Choctaw people.
While hunting and fishing hold a special place in Michaela’s heart, she is most at home on the field. An elite athlete since childhood, she played several sports, including football, little-league baseball and travel league softball, and eventually her talent and hard work landed her a spot on the Oklahoma State University softball team.
Playing college sports taught Michaela how to hold herself accountable for a growing list of responsibilities.
Balancing school with softball practice and a social life isn’t always easy, but time management is one skill Michaela put to good use. She is most grateful for her teammates who became a family-away-from-family.
In addition to balancing her responsibilities as a student athlete, Michaela realized college softball wasn’t like high school softball. The pace of the game is different, and the skills required to be successful required her to step up her practice habits. “They open your eyes up with more drills, and there’s always more that you can learn,” said Michaela, “But it helps not having to go through it on your own. On the bad days, your teammates are there to help build you up.”
According to Michaela, bad days are just part of the learning process. “If you’re not failing, that means you’re not getting any better. If you’re succeeding at everything, that means you’re not growing as a person,” she said. “When you see failure, there’s an option to get better and grow within different opportunities.”
After college, she returned to Southeastern Oklahoma to teach middle school special education in Allen. Working with special needs students has been a calling for Michaela since childhood. She recalls a classmate who was told at an early age that he would never walk again. Over time, Michaela got to watch him progress from being in a wheelchair to walking the halls with his cane. “It was the coolest thing to see, and it just kind of pulled me towards that,” she said. Working one-on-one with a boy from her church who had a disability solidified Michaela’s calling to teach.
Having a niece and nephew who have Down Syndrome has also taught Michaela a lot about how others see disability. Often people don’t look past the disability to the person behind it, which leads to misguided ideas about what that person is able to do. “Even though someone has a certain disability, they are still able to accomplish multiple things that you may not consider,” Michaela said.
Michaela draws on the strength of her Choctaw ancestors for inspiration in her daily life. She knows the responsibility for things they were unable to accomplish now rests on her shoulders, an honor she is proud to bear. She also relies on her faith as a Christian to keep herself connected to the past, present and future.
Together, We’re More features 18 tribal members from different careers, locations and walks of life, making a difference in Oklahoma and beyond. Each month the Choctaw Nation will release short stories of tribal members like Michaela and how they exemplify being ‘Choctaw Proud.’
To watch Michaela tell her story “More Than an Athlete” visit choctawnation.com/bios/athlete/ or go to togetherweremore.com to learn more about how the Choctaw Nation is making a difference in Oklahoma and beyond.
About The Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 212,000 tribal members and 12,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity.
Contact Kristina Humenesky for any media relations needs at [email protected].