Alyssa Joseph of Bethel was a portrait of concentration in winning the girls Alaskan high kick with a kick of 71 inches (5 feet, 11 inches). Before each kick she went through a routine not unlike that of a golfer lining up a putt. She walked up to the ball on tiptoes, extended her arm next to the ball and then slowly sank to the floor with her hand still in the air. Her eyes never wavered from the ball until she kicked.
"Standing up on my toes makes me feel tall, like I can actually hit it," said Joseph, who is 15 and stands about 5-foot-2. "It's like mathematics. If you want to solve a problem, you look at all your options."
Events challenge competitors in many ways
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: April 25, 2003)
At first glance, the Native Youth Olympics look like the anti-sport of athletics.
Uniforms are optional. The only balls in use are covered with fur or seal skin. Opponents offer coaching tips to each other during competition.
The events themselves look and sound like something straight out of bizarro world, like the seal hop, in which kids get down in a push-up position and hop as far as they can on the palms of their hands. Many defy description and must be seen to be believed.
Get past the oddities though, and you find sport purer than almost anything you'll see at Sullivan Arena or on ESPN. These are sports born out of survival and revered as cultural touchstones.
The Native Youth Olympics date back to 1971, which makes them older than just about any of Alaska's "official" high school sports. And the games that make up NYO were ancient even back when James Naismith was tossing balls into peach baskets and calling it basketball.(more)