Nome Nanooks finish NYO season strong at the State Competition
The Nome Nanook NYO team brought nine athletes to the annual Native Youth Olympics competition in Anchorage, held Thursday April 21-23. Every year NYO attracts hundreds of high school athletes from across the state to compete in traditional Native games that Inuit have created many generations ago. These games were developed to keep their bodies fit, healthy, and ready for hunting and gathering food in the arctic.
Timothy James, a junior at Nome-Beltz Jr./Sr. High School, competed in six of the 10 games NYO offers: Alaska High Kick, One-Foot High Kick, Two-Foot High Kick, Seal Hop, Scissor Broad Jump and Kneel Jump. James broke his personal records in One-Foot high kick at a height of 96 inches and Kneel Jump with a distance of 54 ¾ inches. His kneel jump distance was enough to put him in fourth place and was able to represent the Nome Nanooks proudly on the podium.
Kimberly Clark, also a junior, competed in three games: Kneel Jump, Alaskan High Kick and Seal Hop. Clark also broke her personal records in both Kneel Jump at a distance of 42 inches and Alaskan High Kick at a height of 68 inches, and like James, Clark was able to finish in fourth place in the Alaskan High Kick. “I was shocked I hit 68 inches, I didn’t know I hit that until my coach told me how high it was. I felt really excited and proud of myself,” Clark said. She was very excited, but she is also just happy to be at the competition and knows there is more to the games than breaking personal records and receiving medals. “I like that other athletes go out of their way to help other athletes, you don’t see that with other sports. During competition they come and help you so that you can get better,” she said. The rest of the Nanook team did just that, supporting not just each other but different teams and athletes. Cheering, shaking hands and congratulating fellow competitors happened all three days of the competition.
Zach Tozier, a junior, competed in Eskimo Stick Pull and Indian Stick Pull. Tozier narrowly missed the chance to make the final bracket for Indian Stick Pull, on his final pull him and his competitor each had one win, to break the tie a coin was tossed, Tozier lost the toss and ultimately the match. But with good sportsmanship he shook his competitors hand and was left with excitement about next year’s NYO season.
Other Nome Nanooks include Aaron Rose who competed in One-Hand Reach and Wrist Carry, Rose broke his personal best by nearly 100 feet on the Wrist Carry. Anna Peterson did the Scissor Broad Jump, Abigail Tozier did the Wrist Carry, Madison Johnson did Indian Stick Pull, Ivory Okleasik did the One-Hand Reach and Kalani Suemai, the only senior in the team, competed in Eskimo Stick Pull, Two-Foot High Kick and the One-Foot High Kick.
As their coach it was amazing to witness these youth grow into strong healthy leaders. Each one of the athletes supported one another and encouraged each other to work hard and reach their goals. They were able to show by example the true sprit of the games and be positive role models for their peers and younger generation.