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Former SDSU Jackrabbit Megan Bultsma finds new passion with South Dakota Highway Patrol

Plankinton native and former South Dakota State University women's basketball player Megan Bultsma is enjoying her new role as a South Dakota Highway Patrol officer based out of Platte.

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Plankinton native and former South Dakota State University women's basketball player Megan Bultsma is now a South Dakota Highway Patrol officer based in Platte working out of the Chamberlain station. (Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic)
Matt Gade
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PLATTE -- While it hasn’t happened yet, Plankinton native Megan Bultsma knows it eventually will.

The former Mount Vernon/Plankinton basketball and volleyball standout turned South Dakota State University women’s basketball alum will find herself pulling over someone she knows. That’s because Bultsma is one of the newest officers for the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Bultsma went to the academy in August 2020 and was officially sworn in February. She started her regular shift in April, based in Platte, as a part of the unit stationed out of Chamberlain. Ever since Bultsma took part in one of the highway patrol’s youth trooper academies, the idea of working in law enforcement has always been in the back of her mind.

“It's like a miniaturized version of what we do in the academy. And I really enjoyed it,” Bultsma said about the youth academy she attended the summer before her junior year in high school. “When I went to college, and I did a criminal justice (minor) with my psychology (major) and biology (minor), it just stuck with me. Then they called and asked me to apply.”

At SDSU, Bultsma said she recognized her role and said she really bought into the team aspect of making everyone better.

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Bultsma played sparingly her first three years before seeing the majority of her playing time as a senior.

“It was a really good year for me. It was especially fun just getting to have a little bit bigger role,” she said.

As a 6-foot-3 Jackrabbit, Bultsma was a true center for head coach Aaron Johnston who traditionally uses more hybrid players.

She finished her career with 302 points, 203 rebounds and 46 blocks, seeing action in 84 games throughout her four years. That span included two Summit League championships and a part of the 2019 team made it to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.

“The tournament is always one of the biggest (memories) that comes to mind, beating USD sometimes. Those are just the best games ever,” she said. “But the night beating Syracuse was probably the best one just because of the excitement of actually getting to go (to the Sweet 16) and finding out that you actually finally made it, because they've been close to a number of years before is the best.”

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South Dakota State University's Megan Bultsma (50) is congratulated by her teammates after being fouled during the Summit League tournament championship against the University of South Dakota on March 10, 2020 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

At the academy, the routine and duties assigned to cadets was akin to her time with the Jackrabbits.

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“You have a pretty strict schedule to maintain. It's kind of like having class all day and then going into practices,” she said. “We'd have stuff all day until 5 o'clock pretty much and then we'd be done ... You would do whatever you need to do, but you do it as a group.

"It's kind of like a team atmosphere again, which I enjoy. It wasn't that big of a change for me kind of just jumping back in it.”

Since she started, Bultsma said she’s enjoyed the range of duties she’s come across while on patrol.

“There’s something new every day, and you get to constantly meet new people,” she said. “In law enforcement, you don't always meet the best people. But there are times where I just get to help out families, couples on the interstate. I'll just sit and chat with them until their tow truck arrives or someone to help them or I'll help them change their tire. That's always good and and you just get to talk to different people.”

Coming from the small town of Plankinton, Bultsma said she was looking at law enforcement careers in rural areas or even as a game warden, rather than working in a bigger city police department.

She is the oldest of Clint and Amy Bultsma’s four children, which include her sister Grace and two brothers Seth and Evan.

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