By Duc Ngo
APU traditional games team had a successful weekend at the Juneau Traditional Games/Native Youth Olympics (NYO) competition hosted by the Sealaska Heritage Center and Tlingit & Haida Tribes.
Faculty member Steve Rubinstein and APU alumnus Duc Ngo recruited athletes for the games in mid-February. Ngo acted as a volunteer coach and worked closely with Rubenstein to coordinate practice dates, times, and travel logistics for students. Inuit & Dene Sports Athlete & Coach Kyle Worl donated equipment to APU earlier this semester, including a kickstand, stick pull, and kickball.
Ngo and Rubinstein reserved the climbing wall at the Outdoor Program building and set up practices weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 P.M. for February and March. Nine students were interested in the Juneau Traditional Games competition, alongside six current students and one alumnus.
The team consisted of Chattian Apatiki, Jenay Mike, Denzel Henderson, Ian Standard, Justin Olson, Daphne Green, and Duc Ngo as volunteer coach. Throughout the practices, we learned many culturally relevant aspects of the games as they are based on the hunting and survival skills of the Indigenous people of Alaska. They were to test our strength, agility, balance, endurance, and focus.
APU worked with Sealaska Heritage Center, whose sponsorship covered two students’ expenses, while APU sponsored two other students with airfare. Standard traveled with the Master of Science Outdoor & Environmental Education (MSOEE) graduate assistantship. Green and Ngo traveled with their associated teams (Anchorage Service High School and Chickaloon Native Village) to represent and compete as APU athletes.
We had a wonderful weekend competing with other college students and open athletes. It was a weekend full of sportsmanship and camaraderie. As a team, we supported not only our teammates but the other athletes who were competing with our side. We cheered them on when it was their turn to kick, pull, and jump. We shared our experiences, tips, and tricks with others to help them achieve their goals. We also showed appreciation and respect for the officials and volunteers by shaking their hands and saying thank you.
We appreciated APU for giving us this opportunity to learn and grow as individuals while having fun! We hope to participate in Juneau Traditional Games in 2024!
Individual placing in each event
5th Place- Denzel Henderson- 45 ½’’
One Foot High Kick
4th Place- Denzel Henderson 104’’
Dené Stick Pull
2nd Place- Duc Ngo
Inuit Stick Pull
3rd Place- Denzel Henderson
5th Place- Ian Standard
2nd Place- Jenay Mike
5th Place- Daphne Green
1st Place- Denzel Henderson- 31.27 sec
3rd Place- Duc Ngo 25.72 sec
2nd Place- Ian Standard