Sealaska Heritage Institute held a celebratory lunch for Juneau’s Native Youth Olympics team on Friday at the SHI offices.
SHI was one of the co-sponsors of the team, which competed in the statewide NYO Games in May and earned a bronze medal in the Eskimo stick pull.
Kyle Worl and Kaytlynne Lewis coached the team in its inaugural year. Worl, who held weekly practices during the school year, introduced the team and shared some of their accomplishments at the event.
“It was a good way to wrap up our year one of NYO and just to reflect back on how much we’ve accomplished,” Worl told the Empire Tuesday.
Worl said some of the team stuck together through the summer. Seniors like Josh Sheakley (Yaakoosgé Daakahidi), Bryan Johnson (Juneau-Douglas) and Erick Whisenhant (Thunder Mountain) wanted to get a taste of the World Eskimo Indian Olympics now that they were too old for the NYO Games.
“I wanted to help them out and help them get to WEIO and show them that just because they graduated high school, doesn’t mean that they have to stop with the sport,” Worl said. “They can continue training and working out and staying in shape and having events to look forward to.”
At the lunch, Worl said, Sheakley shared what the NYO experience has meant to him.
“He referred to the team as a family and having that feeling of belonging to this NYO family and community that is just really uplifting and supporting of each other,” he said.
The NYO season starts up again the second week of September. The first practice will take is Sept. 10 at TMHS.
SHI is a private nonprofit that promotes Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.