NYO 2017: Cassie Quinn, JNYO Coach

We’re celebrating NYO 2017 by highlighting some of our coaches, teams, athletes, and volunteers, starting with Coach Cassie Quinn from Girdwood School.

Cassie Quinn had never heard of Native Youth Olympics. Then she became the P.E. teacher at Girdwood School.

“I grew up in Ohio,” Cassie explained. “I grew up playing soccer and basketball, so my introduction to NYO was when I started teaching in Girdwood. NYO is so different than your traditional sports that most elementary school kids play.”

Since 2009, Cassie has been coaching the Girdwood Junior NYO team and bringing her athletes to the annual Games, usually held in Anchorage. She learned the fundamentals of the Games by watching other coaches and officials, and by inviting NYO Head Official Nicole Johnston and Official Sam Strange to do presentations at her school. From there, she built a foundation of positive sportsmanship and team spirit among her athletes.

“The biggest part of Junior NYO is displaying positive sportsmanship,” she said. “Even being at the event, that’s all you see, is positive sportsmanship. The athletes giving high fives to other athletes, stopping the ball before it’s the next person’s turn, shaking the judges’ hands.”

“The biggest part of Junior NYO is displaying positive sportsmanship.”

Her team, which ranges in size — this year’s team was made up of 18 student athletes — is motivated by achieving a personal best, said Cassie, and by the notion that the NYO Games are different than any other sport.

This year, one of her sixth-grade female athletes demonstrated drastic improvement at JNYO; the Alaskan High Kicker hung on until she missed the ball at 52 inches, beating her personal best height from last year, 45 inches.

“I gave her a ball to take home and practice with — I don’t know why I didn’t think of that last year,” Cassie remarked. “But she saw major improvement once she could get that extra practice.”

As a coach, Cassie mainly relies on tips from the other coaches and officials she meets through JNYO. “That’s what’s amazing — they’re always helping the athletes, giving them advice,” she said.

“NYO gives the students I work with a sense of accomplishment, and it helps them grow as people to see all the student athletes from around the state participating and demonstrating excellent sportsmanship,” she added. “It’s really unique.”

You can be part of the NYO experience! Come cheer on our senior athletes at the Senior NYO Games, purchase an official NYO tee shirt or hoodie, volunteer at the Games, or make a donation to support Alaska’s youth.