While sizzling summer heat grips much of the Lower 48, officials in Alaska are getting ready to tee it up for the start of prep football. Our favorite Alaska team, the Barrow Whalers, will be playing host to the dreaded Kodiak Bears on Saturday in a rematch of last season's small schools state semifinals, won by Kodiak, 19-13.
This site first chronicled the story of the Whalers in 2006, when officials in Alaska's northernmost city — located 340 miles north of the Arctic Circle — decided to field a football team. ESPN sent writer Wayne Drehs and videographer Nik Kleinberg to Barrow to cover the first game and they produced an award-winning two-part series you can view by clicking here and here.
Cathy Parker, the wife of a Jacksonville high school coach, was so moved by the series that she started a fund-raising campaign to replace Barrow's gravel field with artificial turf. By August 2007, the Whalers had their new field. You can click the image above to get a closer look at Cathy Parker Field. Yes, that's the Arctic Ocean on the left.
Global warming has apparently reached Barrow. Highs Saturday are expected to be near 60. Get out the tanning butter!
Thanks to James Brooks of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.