A sports program in a small Southeast Alaska town was spotlighted on a statewide stage this week.
The Coaching Boys Into Men program earned this year’s Shirley Demientieff Award at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Fairbanks.
Simon Friday, a 19-year-old University of Alaska Fairbanks sophomore from Kake, accepted the award on behalf of the program, which was introduced to the audience in a five-minute video showcasing Kake’s implementation of the program.
“It meant a lot to speak on behalf of a program that I think will have a major positive impact on the rest of the state if it’s implemented further,” Friday said in a Friday interview.
Friday shared the stage in the Carlson Center with Gov. Mike Dunleavy and first lady Rose Dunleavy, who presented the award to him. The Demientieff Award recognizes individuals or groups that have made a positive impact on the lives of Alaska Native women and children.
“If Alaska will ever turn the corner on our horrendous rates of sexual assault and domestic violence, we must begin training and teaching our youth that these behaviors are unacceptable,” Dunleavy said. “The first lady and I were impressed by the successes that Coaching Boys into Men have demonstrated in the communities that it has been implemented, especially those in in rural Alaska. We hope by shining a light on this program, more coaches and athletic directors will begin to implement it in their high school sports programs.”
Coaching Boys Into Men is an evidenced-based violence-prevention program that is taught by high school coaches and shares the importance of healthy relationship skills.
Friday took part in it while playing basketball for Kake High School.
“At first I wasn’t sure what to think of it,” Friday said during his speech, about first learning about CBIM. “All I knew was that this 30-minute session is really getting in the way of practice. But as we dove deeper into the program, I began to understand the benefits of Coaching Boys Into Men. Not only was it teaching my teammates and I how to conduct ourselves as men, it also helped us uplift those around us by modeling the values we were learning.”
Friday went on to call domestic violence an “epidemic” that should no longer be the status quo.
“We no longer have to accept what is going on as a fact of life because before us is the opportunity to take a major step forward and I think it is time we take it,” he said. “Let the darkness of domestic violence fall with the rise of the next generation of young men.”
Robert Casperson, boys basketball coach at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé, also joined Friday on the stage to accept the award. Both the JDHS and Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball teams have implemented the program.
Ann Rausch, Program Coordinator at the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said last month over a dozen Alaska teams have the program.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.