Barrow, Alaska in not a normal destination point for national media, but crews from ABC, NBC, CNN and ESPN gathered Friday night in the northernmost community in the U.S. — 340 miles north of the Arctic Circle — to see a dream realized.
A $500,000 artificial turf field in bold blue and gold just a few yards from the Arctic Ocean became the new home of the Barrow High Whalers.
It was a crowning moment for Cathy Parker, the Jacksonville, Fla., woman whose national fundraising campaign through Project Alaska Turf.com made all of this possible. And the Whalers didn't disappoint, overcoming many distractions — including a streaker in the third quarter — and rallying from a 16-6 deficit in the final five minutes to defeat the Seward Seahawks, 18-16. Friday's game was heard worldwide through Pennsylvania-based Black Diamond Sports.net, and you can listen to a halftime interview with Parker by clicking here. You can listen to a rebroadcast of the entire game by clicking here.Parker inspected the field before the game with North Slope Borough School Superintendent Trent Blankenship, left, and Barrow handyman "Moosie" Igtanloc. Blankenship started the program last year to combat drug abuse and a high dropout rates among students. The team, with the finest playing field in Alaska, is now a member of the seven-team Greatland Conference.
Photojournalist Terry Brown, who accompanied Parker's group to Barrow, was kind enough to send us these images. Mic Weatherly, above, broke out the facepaint in support of the Whalers.
Inupiat whaler Price Brower, left, kicks back in his lounge chair. The gametime temperature was in the low 40s and Brower kept warm dressed in his polar bear pants and parka. Temperatures in Barrow reach higher than 32 degrees an average of only 109 days a year. An Inupiat girl, also dressed for the weather, helped cheer Barrow to the victory.
The teams gathered at midfield for the coin toss, conducted by Parker. An estimated 3,000 people attended the game, including NFL Hall of Famer Larry Csonka. The field was named after Parker during a pregame ceremony.
Barrow operates out of the shotgun, with the frigid waters of the Arctic only yards from the edge of the field. One of the reasons Barrow's field is blue is because that color tends to hold heat better than the traditional green.
Barrow Inupiat native Joseph Aveognna, 6, cheers from the shoulders of Tom Gloe of Jacksonville. Gloe was among the Florida entourage in attendance. Whaler fan Devin Tiegland shows his appreciation for the new field.
Seward's Dylan Beck stops Barrow's Anthony Edwards short of the goal line, but Edwards would later score on a two-yard run to give Barrow a 6-0 lead. Seward scored the next 16 points before Barrow's miraculous comeback.
Parker, left, and Whaler fans cheer the winning score in the final minute. "Our kids played a good game," Seward coach Kelly Cinereski told Danny Martin of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "but [Barrow] had a storybook ending."
It was nearly 10 p.m., but Whaler players didn't hesitate to take a cold dip in the Arctic after their dramatic victory.
Joining them was Evan Hall, left, a member of the Bartram Trail High team in Jacksonville. Hall accompanied the Florida group that attended the game.
Parker continues her fundraising effort at Project Alaska Turf.com, hoping to secure other facility upgrades for the Whalers.
Whaler apparel is also available through this link. Thanks to the North Slope Borough School District.
Great story! Thanks for posting that!
This story is full of win! Nice job.
We are planning a trip from Seattle to Barrow in late September and are eager to see the football field and other attractions.
While it is great that this Alaska school has a football field, being from the community (Fruit Cove, Florida) it was disconcerting to see this money being raised, when there are an infinite number of more deserving causes, including many in impoverished parts of Jacksonville.
anonymous person above me you seem to be a giant prick. you have the internet and the same ability that these people have to raise money, so get off your ass and stop bitching
I agree - totally classless to use this as an opportunity to whine about your latest liberal "feel good" cause of the moment. Get a clue jerk.
As to the field itself tho....why BLUE? Are you trying to imitate Boise State or what? Second question - Why build it right next to the ocean? That seems silly at best.
Poster above, it says the field is blue because it retains heat more than a green field. And I think it looks sharp.
As for it being right next to the ocean, maybe that's the only place they could put it. Isn't Barrow pretty much an oilfield?
As part of the group that flew up with Cathy Parker I think it is important to note that although this is one of the harshest environments I've been to, the people of Barrow are among the warmest and friendliest. This is an amazing story of leadership, compassion and teamwork led by Cathy. Everyone involved put effort and skill behind getting the turf to Barrow for the Whalers. This is one of those rare moments where people banded together to provide something that can enable the community to improve their conditions for their youth for years to come. I am proud to have been a part and can attest to how important the donated football field is to the city of Barrow and the entire North Slope Borough. Whether the Whalers have a winning season or not…they are winners. To contribute to this effort on behalf of UPS and to respresent the North Florida District UPS staff was one of the best experiences of my career. The esteem I have for Cathy Parker, our group that enabled this (UPS, Grimes, Tote, Bowhead, Sourdough, Northern Air Cargo, NS and BNSF) and the leadership of Trent Blankenship, Delbert Rexford, Coach Voss and the Whalers is unmatched. Let’s Go Whalers, Let’s Go! See you for the playoffs.
Excellent story, congrats to Barrow! Football is a great game, the more kids that can play the better! I have two friends that Played in Seward and moved down to Wisconsin so it's cool to see that in there also, but great story hopefully they get even more media attention!
The greatest benefit of having this incredible field in Barrow is that it might encourage more high school students to finish school. Getting the football field to Barrow has been a rallying point not only for the Barrow community but for the entire nation. It demonstrates the generous spirit Americans and serves as an example of how one person can make a difference.
And, no, Barrow is not an oilfield. You might be referring to Prudhoe Bay.
blue and gold are the colors of the barrow whalers, and barrow is not an oil field
Wow, what a great story. Both the field and what they are doing locally to keep kids in school and off drugs. Let's not forget this last part. I commend Cathy Parker and everyone who contributed to making this happen. Way to go!
Barrow would be a great place to go to get some refreahing air, but it is pretty much an oilfield. I mean honestly what is there to do there?
Barrow is not an oilfield, and far from it. We are an Inupiat Eskimo village who takes great pride in where we come from and who we are. We may not have shopping malls and movie theatres, but we have plenty to do, you just have to be the type of person to enjoy such things... like hunting, being out on the ocean/sea, etc. I wouldn't trade these things for "city life" ever!
Last night's TV coverage of Barrow's football team, new field and Cathy's generosity led me to find this great site. When people get creative, open hearts and purses and work together for the good of others, such wonderful things happen........whether in Jacksonville, Barrow, Bagdad, Chicago, Caracas, New Orleans, New Delhi, Philadelphia, etc! What the world needs is thousands more people working together with willing heats and spirits, instead of critizing life-styles, sitting back and complaining, etc!
The "Barrows' Story" is so wonderfully refreshing......let's see more of the same/similar!
Blessings on Barrows and on ALL the people who cared enough to see this happen!
And almost every other football school in Alaska is suffering with horrible field conditions and money problems while Barrow gets a state of the art field and endless money.
Every time I read this story, it makes me want to train and work harder so we can win state next year for Cathy Parker.
dude, why the hell is the field blue, that is so gay..why not red and black?!?! you guys dont know your colors, plus all of the natives cant even play football, we tore you guys up when you came to eielson
I am a pre-service teacher here in Missouri and I have recently found this website while looking at possible job opportunities. After reading about Barrow and their need for teachers, my wife (who is a pre-service teacher too) are seriously considering applying for employment in their school district. I also want to coach football and basketball, but thought that football would be out of the question in such a town as Barrow. Boy was I wrong. I would love to coach on a team that had such a commitment to a football program. Who knows, maybe I will be in Barrow by 2010.
Its said to see read the negative comments but I do hope The people of Barrow and the team can overlook them and not give up EVER! I am from Ocala, Florida and I think it would be great to visit barrow. I stumbled upon this whole story while reading about barrow.
This is such an awesome story and its so inspiring.
Keep fighting Whalers! NEVER GIVE UP and don't ever listen to all the haters.
^^^^^lol, I guess I should have proof read my comment, anyways I think you get the message. Forgive me.
This is truly a heartwarming story. Wow! I live in Boise Idaho, Boise State Alum, and I love your blue field!! Hey I was an instant Whalers fan the moment I watched the ESPN documentary but the Blue Field was just Icing on the cake. Just want the Whalers to know they have a true fan living in Boise Idaho!
The Barrow Whalers are hosting a Quarter final game in Barrow. We have been snowing and polar bears have been sighted. October 4, 2008
The story may be "heart warming" but how lame is it that these people dont think for themselves and get another color for their field? Stop trying to copy Boise State.
Barrow, Alaska is a wonderful place to be from and all the negative comments should be left behind. The colors of the field are the Barrow Whalers school colors. We don't have any malls to hang out at, movie theaters, bowling alleys, or really a place for young people to hang out at and be "normal", as the lower 48 kids call it. Barrow is a very unique place where polar bears wonder into town looking for food, and bowhead whales are hunted and harvested for food. Being from such a small town, like Barrow, Alaska, has opened my eyes to appreciate the small things in life and material things don't matter as much.
ok first or all, i dont know who said it but whoever said that jacksonville florida programs are more deserving than this school, shut the hell up. how about stop the damn cocain, weed, meth, heroin, and other drugs. maybe you'll have some money.
secon, being a recent graduate of high school in the state of michigan, i played high school football and its one of the greatest things a young man in school can do. just the pride and the town involved makes you feel very proud to play for your school. I'm glad people that far north can enjoy the most amazing game on the planet, HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL!
My granddaughter is a senior attending Bartram Trails HS in Jacksonville and is the captain of the varsity cheerleading squad. The entire school student body, staff and the entire school family is justifiably proud of the part they played in helping the Whalers obtaining a great home field.
wow... how lame is it that they had to copy boise state... it is a heart warming story, but why not get a different color
if they want t field that atracts heat, why not black?
and why buid it next to the ocean?
i live on hawai'i and i don't see football stadiums next to the ocean
Excellent work and a great story. Congrads on your first playoff win, in 2008.
Good luck next season, and in life.
We are planning a trip to Alaska in the next couple of years, and part of it is to fly to Barrow and go to a Whaler's game.
The field looks great, too.
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