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Denali Borough looks for funds to start a high school football program

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Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 11:58 pm

DENALI PARK, Alaska — Wanted: 40 football uniforms and gear for a proposed high school football program in the Denali Borough in fall 2013. Or $43,000 in sponsorships.

(The cost includes $11,000 just for helmets.)

This is the second or third time football enthusiasts have tried to start a program in Healy.

Organizers say they are confident and so are some of the potential players. More than 20 teens showed up at two meetings to discuss the possibility.

Tri-Valley junior Liam Juhl plays soccer and basketball, but he’d love to play on a football team next year, his last year in high school.

“I’ve definitely wanted to play football for a while,” he said. Juhl said he was disappointed earlier efforts were not successful.

“I’m sad it didn’t work out,” he said. “It’s definitely something I would have tried.”

Tallon Shreeve, the high school girls basketball coach, graduated from Tri-Valley School eight years ago and tried unsuccessfully to start a program then.

He has some help this year. New high school science teacher Kevin Gwinn thinks it’s a great idea.

“We have to raise a lot of money,” Gwinn said. “Working with grants and sponsors that pay for new gear, practice equipment, uniforms, staff and travel. After that the price is significantly reduced.”

The team would include students in grades eight through 12.

Organizers are working on a video to send to sponsors and are contacting other districts for used gear. Delta Junction dropped its football program in 2012 and Healy football supporters hope to talk with them about obtaining used gear.

The only other sport offered by Tri-Valley School in the fall, besides cross-country running, is soccer. It is co-ed and extremely popular. Last season, 40 high school players vied for time on the field.

Supporters say football would reduce the number of soccer players and give players in both sports more game time.

The program likely would be an official school program and fall under statewide school athletic rules. But it would be supported by the program and volunteers.

If football is a go, the school must then offer a program for girls. There is talk about reviving the cheerleading squad from long ago. Money also would have to be raised for cheerleading.

Organizers presented the football program possibility to the Community School Committee (CSC), the local parent advisory group, which encouraged them to move forward.

The plan is to present the proposal to the Denali Borough School Board at its January meeting.

School Superintendent James Elliott thinks it’s a great idea.

 “Actually, I personally am in favor of it,” he said.

Mayor election

Clay Walker is interim mayor of the Denali Borough ­— at least until a special mayoral election on Feb. 19.

Candidate packets for those who want to run for mayor, will be available Jan. 7 at the borough office or online at Call the borough office with questions at 683-1330.

Applications for early or absentee voting will be available on Jan. 7.

Absentee and early voting begins in the borough office on Jan. 30. That’s the same day ballots will be mailed.        

Lost and found

The lost and found bins at Tri-Valley School are overflowing. If your child is missing any gear, look for it by Thursday. Everything in those bins will be donated to people in need during the holiday vacation.

Candle lighting

The community is invited to participate in a special candle lighting ceremony for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Gather at 6 p.m. today at the flagpole outside Tri-Valley School in Healy.

The alumni basketball game starts after at 6:30 p.m., after the ceremony.

Christmas On Ice

One of my favorite community events of the year takes place Saturday at the local ice rink. Come spend the afternoon and evening with friends and neighbors.

Bring a potluck dish to share.

See the amazing Caspian Schieber and his magic show at 3 p.m.

Watch Santa Claus arrive on the Zamboni sometime after

5 p.m.

Enjoy the alumni hockey game at 7 p.m. and participate in a mass launch of sky lanterns at

9. Sky lanterns will be for sale that evening.

Denali story

Tell your favorite Denali story, in 60 seconds or less, through the park’s new fun social media project at

Visitors are encouraged to call from anywhere and record a 60-second story about an event, experience or impression of their time at Denali National Park.

The project began during the weekend and was announced online. Already, 10 people from around the country recorded musings.

“Some are really quite charming,” Denali media guru Jay Elhard said. “But they all reflect a deep connection and appreciation for the park.”

At least 100 people have listened to each story the first day. Half of the listeners are on Twitter, according to the park.

Denali National Park hopes people nationwide will continue to participate in this project.

Kris Capps is a freelance writer. Her column reporting Denali happenings appears weekly in the News-Miner. She can be reached at

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