Juneau welcomed back to Native Youth Olympics

Team Juneau’s Derrick Roberts competes in the Eskimo Stick Pull against Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s Haley Osborne on Friday at the 2018 Native Youth Olympics at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. Osborne placed first while Roberts came in third. (Courtesy Photo | Kyle Worl)

Team Juneau’s Derrick Roberts competes in the Eskimo Stick Pull against Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s Haley Osborne on Friday at the 2018 Native Youth Olympics at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. Osborne placed first while Roberts came in third. (Courtesy Photo | Kyle Worl)

Kyle Worl, 27, was fresh off his first coaching stint at the statewide Native Youth Olympics when he moved to Juneau one year ago.

He said it was difficult to leave behind Team Anchorage, his former team, not knowing if he could start an NYO team in his new home from scratch.

Those doubts were put to rest once and for all last week at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, the site of this year’s NYO Games, where Team Juneau joined the fray with 50 other teams. The Games have been going on since 1971 but Juneau hasn’t fielded a team in close to three decades.

“I told the students they literally made a dream of mine come true to be able to bring a team to state,” Worl said. “It was really hard for me to leave Anchorage and leave my team and my athletes behind unsure if I would be coaching another team at state any time soon.”

The dream sweetened as the Games awarded Worl with the 2018 Healthy Coach Award, which considers qualities such as leadership, traditional values and athleticism.

Ten teenagers make up Team Juneau, one of approximately 50 teams to compete in this year’s Games.

The boys team members featured students from all three Juneau high schools.

Juneau-Douglas High School’s Arthur McVey, Bryan Johnson and Derrick Roberts and Thunder Mountain’s Joe Dundore, Matthew Quinto and Erick Whisenant made up two-thirds of the team. Josh Sheakley represented Yaakoosgé Daakahidi High School while Kalila Arreola, Trinity Jackson and Skyler Tuckwood represented Dzanitik’i Heeni Middle School.

Roberts was the only medal winner in the group, coming in third place in the Eskimo Stick Pull. The event — akin to a seated tug of war using a 20 inch-long wooden pole — attracted around 70 contestants.

The former football noseguard won all six of his matches in the preliminary round but lost two out of three to Mt. Edgecumbe’s Haley Osborne in the finals. Roberts said it was the first time he’d ever lost.

“I have more respect for (Osborne) because I’ve never been beaten before,” Roberts said of Osborne. “I wasn’t upset at all, it was just surprising a little bit.”

Whisenant just missed the cut for the final round in the two-foot high kick. His kick of 88 inches in the 2018 Traditional Games would’ve put him in third place in the state games.

“He has the jumps, he just doesn’t have the accuracy all the time,” Worl said.

There’s an emphasis on teamwork at the Games, Worl said, which mirrors Alaska Native culture. There may be 50 other teams in the competition, but at the end of the day, they are all there to bring out the best in each other, he said.

“A lot of the athletes and a lot of other coaches from other teams were approaching my athletes, Team Juneau athletes, and helping them out,” Worl said. “So that was really nice to see and I think the students really appreciated strangers, people from other teams, coaches from other teams, helping them out. It made them really feel welcomed and part of this culture of the Games.”

Roberts, Whisenant, Johnson, Dundore and Sheakley are all seniors, meaning this was their final year to compete in the NYO Games. These students already have their eyes trained on the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, which will be held this summer in Fairbanks.

“The people that were on my team are definitely some of my closest friends now,” Roberts said.

Healthy Coach Award: Kyle Worl, Juneau

Team Sportsmanship Award: Unalaska

Individual Sportsmanship Award: Allie Ivanoff (Unalakleet); Arctic Ivanoff (Unalakleet)

Highest-scoring athletes: Allie Ivanoff; Arctic Ivanoff

Team results: 1) Lower Kuskokwim School District; 2) Unalaska; 3) Mat-Su; 4) Bering Straights School District; 5) Dillingham.

 


 

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.

 


 

The 2018 Team Juneau Native Youth Olympics team. Top Row (L to R): Arthur McVey, coach Kaytlynne Lewis, Derrick Roberts, coach Kyle Worl, Joe Dundore, Matthew Quinto. Middle Row: Bryan Johnson. Bottom Row: Josh Sheakley, Skyler Tuckwood, Kalila Arreola, Trinity Jackson, Erick Whisenant. (Courtesy Photo | Cook Inlet Tribal Council)

The 2018 Team Juneau Native Youth Olympics team. Top Row (L to R): Arthur McVey, coach Kaytlynne Lewis, Derrick Roberts, coach Kyle Worl, Joe Dundore, Matthew Quinto. Middle Row: Bryan Johnson. Bottom Row: Josh Sheakley, Skyler Tuckwood, Kalila Arreola, Trinity Jackson, Erick Whisenant. (Courtesy Photo | Cook Inlet Tribal Council)

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Campaign buttons urging Alaskans to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska sit on a picnic table at the home of Phil Izon, a backer of the initiative, in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 14. Arguments are scheduled May 28 in a lawsuit challenging the state Division of Election’s decision to certify the initiative for placement on the ballot this year. (Mark Thiessen / AP)
Ranked-choice voting has challenged the status quo. Its popularity will be tested in November

Arguments scheduled Tuesday in Alaska lawsuit involving ballot initiative repealing RCV.

A sperm whale is seen in an undated photo published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA photo)
Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges after ordering crew to shoot whale

A Southeast Alaska troll fisherman has agreed to plead guilty to a… Continue reading

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Most Read