Tuesday, August 21, 2007

American Football arrives in the North Slope

Grace and greetings.

I do not know if you have heard or not, but Barrow, Alaska now has its own football field. That may not seem too extreme until you consider all that is involved.

Last year, they decided to try football, all eleven players on the field at one time. The borough leveled out a field with gravel and marked it with corn flower. The Barrow Whalers had a couple of home games with high school teams from the Fairbanks area, and played three more out in Fairbanks and Anchorage areas. One must consider that the nearest football team is three hundred miles away, and the only way to get into and out of Barrow is by plane; a football team is expensive enough, but add on $600.00 tickets per team MEMBER per game. It adds up quickly.

The promotion was to help build character, not just a macho sport. Some people backed the idea and they had their first season. In the meantime, ESPN hears of the football team in the frozen north, and runs a news story on it. So much for the grand experiment and 15 seconds of news fame.

Well a business woman in Florida heard the story. She thought to herself, "wouldn't it be great if they did not have to play on the gravel, but on a real football field?" She started to ask around northern Florida about the possibility of getting an artificial field to Barrow. I understand her husband was a former NFL player, still with contacts and her sons also play high school football. She made some telephone calls and started getting serious about the field. During the winter and spring, she raised the $500,000 for the artificial turf, now just to get it to Barrow.

After a few setbacks and a few surprises, everything fell into place. The field is in the Blue and White colors of the High School. After all was said and done, we now have an artificial football field in Barrow, Alaska. If all bills were paid the "normal" way, this field cost close to one million dollars. But a lot of time, materials and transportation cost ended up being donated to the cause. And it is a beautiful football field.

The Barrow Whalers played the Seward Seahawks for it first official game Friday night. The Whalers were the first to score in the second quarter, but Seward came back to take a 7-6 lead at halftime. The third quarter was going mostly Seward's way, and I headed home. But to make this story come out with a happy ending, with thirty seconds left in the game, Barrow scored the winning touchdown to win their opening game on the new field.

It is a wonderful and touching story of how one person had a dream to reach out to a community four thousand miles away. I pray the million or so it took to make it a reality here in Barrow is able to be a wise, well spent gift for not only the Barrow High School, the community and the North Slope as a whole.

Peace and blessings.

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