NYO teams to gather at state event

by Greg Lincoln

Native Youth Olympics (NYO) is always a highlight and is a positive way to end the school year. NYO is more than athletics, it is a year-long program that helps youth build new friendships and is an incentive to school success.

The folks at the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. have been hosting the junior and senior events each spring. The Junior NYO games are for all athletes in grades 1st through 6th grades with the competition taking place in February. The senior games are for all in state students in 7th – 12th grades with a maximum age limit of 19 and games taking place usually in April.

Each event calls for strength, endurance, technical skill, focus, and for athletes to strive for their personal best while encouraging and supporting their teammates and others in their event.

Athletes are also called to respectfully accept and comply with the judges calls. NYO judges are very well trained in the events and know what to look for during competitions. We have seen judges correct an athlete’s technique or form which resulted in the best possible outcomes.

Athletes are also expected to stay in their event area while they are in active competition.

“For thousands of years and countless generations, survival for Alaska Native people depended not only on individual strength, skill and knowledge, but also on the ability to work together toward common goals,” writes CITCI of the NYO games. “Traditional athletic contests and games helped develop these and other skills critical to everyday life in the challenging Alaska environment. Today’s NYO Games Alaska carries on in this spirit by encouraging young people to strive for their personal best while helping and supporting their teammates—even other teams.”

Each year, CITCI conducts a survey for their NYO participants.

“NYO is a year-round program that has a quantifiable positive impact on more than 2,000 youth each year,” said CITCI. “In a survey emphasizing NYO’s impact, 337 NYO athletes in grades

7–12 who competed in the 2023 Sr. Games offered the following insight:”

•77% credited NYO as an incentive to stay in school.

•69% improved or maintained good grades in order to continue participation in NYO games.

•45% indicated a better understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

•83% see themselves as a role-model for future NYO athletes

•96% learned about Alaska Native culture and values

•91% developed new friendships with other athletes, coaches, and teachers

•58% indicated they practice 4 or more hours per week

Good job everyone.

The games and events begin on April 25th, 2024 at the Alaska Airlines Center with a cultural performance and opening ceremonies featuring the Grand Entry parade of teams with their banners. On Saturday there will be a celebration of graduates and Blanket Toss and the presentation of the Academic Excellence awards and the NYO Academic Scholarship Award.

The NYO Games are open to all students and the public to share and celebrate Native traditions.

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