“Project Alaska Turf was inspired by an Emmy Award winning ESPN documentary by Wayne Drehs on a community in Barrow, Alaska. The program focused on a football program that was implemented in order to reverse high teen suicide rates, accelerated dropout rates and increased teen drug use.
Project Alaska Turf, a 501c3 entity, began in February 2007 raising the money needed to provide this start up team with an artificial turf field to replace their gravel-covered field. With the help from many individuals and companies across the US, a beautiful blue and gold field was installed just in time for the Whalers opening game on August 17, 2007.
In front of national media, the Whalers won their opening game and the hearts of people across the US. In Alaska, we saw “at risk” kids who have personally benefited from the positive power of sports, by being depended on as members of a team, by holding their heads high after heart-breaking defeats, knowing that they did their best, and by persevering against the odds. In one short year, they went from winning one game their first season to just missing the state championships during their second year.