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Basketball builds bridges

Basketball is an institution in Western Alaska. Even after the regular season and state tournaments are over, Nome’s youth are ready for more. Nome-Beltz High School annually hosts a basketball camp for third through ninth graders; this year, more than 50 campers spent their evenings in the school gym in the last week of May.

Over the past several years, Nome-Beltz High School has built a reputation for its sterling basketball program. Nome’s Nanooks were state champions in 2022 and runners-up in 2023. Now, the high school Nanooks turn around and offer one-on-one and group coaching to the younger campers.

Head coach Pat Callahan told listeners, “It gets the younger players excited about being a Nanook
someday. The biggest value here is having the high school players, varsity players, coaching the younger kids and having to figure out how the coaching side of it works. I think there’s a lot of learning when they’re teaching. And this is all stuff we want them to do a better job of as well. So, I think there’s a huge value here. These are the role models that these kids look up to.”

One of those student coaches is junior guard Finn Gregg. He played on both Nanook teams that went to the state finals over the past two years. “It’s to show them the culture, how we like to do things, give them a little preview before our team camp because most will be going with us,” Gregg said. “It’s like a little boot camp to get them prepared mentally for what’s coming up in the next six months or seven months.”

Jocelyn Takak is a freshman at Nome- Beltz who found this year’s camp particularly challenging.
“We do drills with the boys,” Takak said. “During basketball (season) we don’t, we just play with the girls. The boys challenge us.” She expects to compete as a Lady Nanook this winter.

Image at top: Nome-Beltz High School Principal Teriscovkya Smith addresses the Class of 2023. Photo courtesy of Nome Public Schools.

Bottom: Nanook junior Finn Gregg (right) coaches younger players at basketball camp. Photo by Greg Knight

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