By BILL PENNINGTON
Published: March 1, 2004
BETHEL, Alaska — It took 90 minutes at sea in a small boat, five hours driving in two vans and 75 minutes on a commuter jet before the boys and girls basketball teams from Seldovia reached Bethel, a remote town in western Alaska.
When the players stepped off the jet onto the Bethel tarmac, as flat as the tundra enveloping it, the late-afternoon temperature was 38 degrees below zero.
Seldovia's players would stay for four nights, sleeping on classroom floors at the local high school, to play three basketball games in a round-robin tournament.
Joining them were teams from Unalakleet, a village of about 800 people on the Bering Sea, and Homer, a port town like Seldovia in the state's south-central maritime wilderness.
"I feel sorry for those kids back East who just have to drive 20 minutes to the next suburb for a game," said Nikki Dill of Unalakleet. "How boring."
And so went another typical week in Alaskan high school sports, where to play something as routine as a basketball or volleyball game, hundreds of teams habitually crisscross a mammoth state on jets, marine ferries, vans and even caravans of snowmobiles. (more)