Nome Spring Sport Seasons Abruptly Come to an End, NYO Could Host One More Event

Aucha Johnson of Unalakleet two-foot high-kicking at BSSD's NYO tournament in Gambell. Photo Credit: KNOM (2014)

While Nome School District staff went back to work on Monday, students and athletes won’t be able to access the building, as all after school activities have been cancelled until at least May 1st.

That means that on Friday the 13th of this month, the Nanook basketball teams played their last games of the season in Anchorage. The high school boys team played Barrow and the high school girls team played Kotzebue.

When asked for comment on the current status of Nanook athletics Nome-Beltz High school Assistant Principal Caen Dowell referred KNOM to Nome Public Schools’ most recent statement updated on March 21st. The statement explains that per Governor Mike Dunleavy’s mandate, school buildings will be closed until May 1st. However, there is no mention of what will happen to schools’ athletics programs when schools are back in session.

As such, the status of the Nanook basketball season is currently unclear and Nome-Beltz Athletic Director Pat Callahan did not return multiple requests for comment. The state basketball March Madness Tournament has been cancelled officially, and no additional practices or events have been scheduled at this time.

The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) released a statement saying that, “the Alaska School Activities Association is announcing cancellation of all 2020 spring events, championships, regular season contest and practices.”

Basketball was not the only sport in season to be affected by an early closure. Nome’s Native Youth Olympics team has at least seen a portion of their season setback.

“Unfortunately, this year’s 2020 NYO Senior Games that were going to happen on April 20th-25th in Anchorage have been cancelled.”

Nome Native Youth Olympics Coach Vanessa Tahbone

Tahbone goes on to mention that all the funds raised for this year’s trip to NYO will be held onto for next year’s competition.

Like all other Nome sports, NYO’s season is on hiatus and their future is uncertain. NYO athletes did get to compete, however, at the 2020 Traditional Games earlier in March. Tahbone says she took seven athletes to Juneau and returned with six medals.

“We had two golds, three bronze, and one silver.”

The gold medalists were 7th grader Alohna Johnson in the Dene stick pull, for the middle school girls, and Coach Vanessa Tahbone in the Dene stick pull, in the combined open and high school girls bracket. Tahbone also took the silver medal in the Inuit Stick Pull.

Nanook Alumni Owen Hebel took bronze in the kneel jump and scissor broad jump, both in the open male division. Katlyn Smith, a junior, took bronze in the Seal Hop for high school girls.

While the date of the Nome NYO team’s next competition is not set, Tahbone says she is still hoping to host the Nome Extravaganza, even though it will most likely be postponed beyond its usual mid-April date.

Image at top: Aucha Johnson of Unalakleet two-foot high-kicking at the BSSD’s 2014 NYO tournament in Gambell. Photo Credit from KNOM file (2014).