My boys play basketball with vigor, ride bikes nonstop and roll in the dirt for fun. But their favorite activity…by far…is the Native Youth Olympics. The programs events are based on the life skills of past generations of Alaska Natives. They simulate their hunting and survival skills and are intended to strengthen and create a balance of body and mind.
|Seward, Alaska boat harbor from hotel balcony|
|The events begin with stretching and concentration…|
My boys competed in four events. The first is the Kneel Hop. They start on their knees and must, in one thrust without using their hands, end up on their feet. They swing their arms, ready themselves, and whip their legs out in front of them. The measurement is how far they make it past the line in that one jump.
|The feet hit the floor…and then they have to stand…without falling…|
|And if you lose your balance…like Anthony here…you lose. He placed second in his age bracket. with Steven and Luke right behind him.|
The next event was the Seal Hop. This event imitates the seal during the hunt and takes amazing strength and determination to complete. The kids have to hop across the floor on their toes and hands as far as they can go. The older kids have to turn their fingers under and use their knuckles. You can see by Stevens face that this is not a pain-free event. I witnessed two high school boys make it all the way across the gym. One was nearly in tears…but he made it.
And my favorite event is the Two Footed High Kick. The ball hangs from a string and they have to jump with both feet and touch the ball. With each round the ball is raised higher and higher. The children are eliminated one by one. Steven came down to the very last two and took second place.
High levels of concentration…
The high school boys…who look more like men because they’ve been competing for years…are impressive.
This takes incredible strength…
And the best part…the relationships that are developed between fabulous coaches and the kids who love them.