Editor’s note: The Reporters’ Notebook is an opportunity for Clarion reporters to share their experiences with our readers as they cover the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.
Part of the legacy of hosting the Arctic Winter Games is the feeling of teamwork and camaraderie that lingers with the host community after the participants have gone home. How’s this for working together: At the volleyball venue at Skyview High School, head coaches from each of the central Kenai Peninsula’s high school teams Nikiski coach Bruce King, Kenai Central coach Jason Diorec, Soldotna coach Pako Whannell and Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid were all pitching in to make the tournament go. No problem overcoming local rivalries there.
For many Alaska spectators, the Games is their first look at boys volleyball. To say the boys play a power game might be an understatement; during competition Monday, a player from Alberta North hit a ball hard enough to send it through the net, tearing a hole in it.
Also present at the volleyball venue is Kenai Central senior Jamie Peterson, a member of Team Alaska. Making the Arctic Winter Games team had been a goal of Peterson’s, however, her name didn’t appear on the initial roster.
“I didn’t get word until later” about making the team, Peterson said.
Now that she’s here, she’s thrilled to be a part of the Games.
“It’s amazing. We had two practices with these girls. They’re the best players in the state, totally elite, which makes me feel small. It’s exciting to play intense volleyball,” Peterson said.
I am about as sports illiterate as they come. And if you are going to hand me a sports magazine or tabloid, it had better be in braille.
I have attended few sporting events in my life. In fact, I can’t even remember the last sporting event I attended unless tractor pulls and dog races count.
So having little experience with spectator sports, I at first felt timid about reporting on the Arctic Winter Games.
But to my great relief, Games organizers, coaches, parents and athletes have all been patient in explaining and opening their athletic worlds to me.
And I have been pleasantly surprised by the grace displayed by the young athletes participating in the Games.
Today I watched with amazement as speed skaters glided like kites around the rink, and as figure skaters practicing before the short figure skating event fluttered about on the ice like butterflies.
I also really got a kick out of watching the “flower girls” collect the flowers spectators threw to the figure skaters at the short figure skating event on Tuesday.
After each performance the blue-outfitted girls would skate out onto the ice like a flock of birds trained to fetch like puppies.
I am thankful for the Arctic Winter Games participants who have taken the time to introduce me to the Games and for the athletes who have motivated me to go to the gym more after work.
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