"Some people worry about the financial cost, but here's the thing," said Igou. "In Barrow or any isolated area like this, if you want your kids to have the same opportunities as any other kids in the Lower 48 or Anchorage, it's just very expensive."
The head coach goes on to say that most people in the community agree that any activity that gets kids involved and interested in school and keeps them off the streets is a positive thing.
The Whalers program started back in 2006 on a frozen field right in the middle of town, which was nothing more than dirt and big rocks. Six years later the artificial blue turf, which was donated by Cathy Parker of Jacksonville, Fla. in 2007, serves as a source of pride for the community.
"Everybody loves them," said Whalers fan Natasha Itta. "Everybody comes out to the football field."
For the young men who were only kids when the original Whalers took the field, it's now their turn to wear the blue and gold and inspire their community.
"I think it's the best feeling you can have," said Voss.
"It makes me feel proud," said senior James Snow. "Little kids look up to you. It's pushing you to do your best."
“For the little kids to see that, sitting on the sidelines they see and they learn and they hear all of the cheering,” Itta said. “And so, for the small ones, it’s pretty good: it boosts them up and shows them that they could play football and do the things they want to do.”
While winning on the field is important, coaches here say it’s life after football that matters most.
“We have a lot of our kids who are in leadership positions, who have great jobs,” Igou said. “We’ve had a lot of kids who have gone to college and finished college, and are doing great things.”
The Barrow Whalers finished the season with a 3-and-4 record, falling to eventual small-schools champion Eielson Air Force Base in the division’s state semifinals.
One of the cooler things that the team does after winning a game at home is to celebrate by jumping in the Arctic Ocean. Igou hasn’t joined the team in the water yet, but promised that he’ll take the plunge when his team wins a state title.
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