Junior NYO Brings Youth Athletes Together in Person
By CITC Senior Communications Specialist Jamey Bradbury
For the first time since 2020, the Junior Native Youth Olympic (JNYO) Games took place in person Feb. 24-26 at the UAA Seawolf Sports Complex in Anchorage.
In 2021, the JNYO Games went virtual to protect athletes and spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes participated from their own homes with the help of parents or coaches, using video submissions to compete in nine events.
This year, JNYO brought together almost 600 student athletes from across the state for three days of friendly competition in traditional Alaska Native games. JNYO is open to all athletes in grades 1-6. This year, 52 schools participated in the Games.
This was also the first year an award was given for Best Team Banner at the Junior Games. Teams design and create their own banners, which are hung throughout the Seawolf Sports Complex gym to celebrate and recognize the athletes participating at the event. The winner of this year’s Best Team Banner Award was the Tyonek/Native Village of Eyak team.
Each year, both JNYO and the Senior NYO Games are made possible by support from Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) partners, including CIRI. CIRI is an annual sponsor of the scissor broad jump, supporting NYO Games at the Silver Medal level. CIRI also provided $10,000 to support a new NYO video project: Combined with funding from Nike’s N7 Fund, CIRI’s donation was used to create a series of instructional videos that walk young athletes, coaches and parents through each NYO event, step by step.
“CIRI’s generous funding is helping make traditional Alaska Native games more accessible to athletes throughout the state and beyond,” said CITC President and CEO Gloria O’Neill. “Through the support of partners like CIRI, CITC is sharing our Native culture with future generations and keeping tradition alive through the celebration of NYO Games.”
Many Alaska communities hold smaller NYO events throughout the year. This year, CIRI was pleased to support Chickaloon NYO. Funds went to support student athletes competing at the main Anchorage event, as well as to the Chickaloon NYO Invitational, which was held March 3-5 in Palmer, Alaska.
For more information, including contest results and a photo gallery, visit nyogames.com.