CITC Saddened by Loss of Ben Snowball

The former NYO Head Official helped create Junior Native Youth Olympics

Ben Snowball, NYO volunteer and former head official, passed away in November 2018.

The CITC family was saddened by the loss of Benedict “Ben” Snowball, who passed away on November 19, 2018, after a battle with cancer.

Originally from Stebbins, Alaska, Ben was a dedicated employee of CITC when it was still known as Cook Inlet Native Association. But he will always be remembered by the CITC family and by athletes, coaches, and volunteers for his association with the Native Youth Olympic (NYO) Games.

“My dad and Native Youth Olympics always just went hand-in-hand,” recalled Ben’s daughter, Holly Snowball Morales, who works as CITC’s Director of Employment Training & Services. “Every time someone talked about NYO, he was just naturally part of the conversation.”

Ben served as NYO’s head official for several years. He also volunteered as an NYO judge and became an ambassador for NYO by advocating for the Games to be included in schools. He was deeply knowledgeable about the history behind NYO and was passionate about sharing that history with young athletes.

He hand-carved trophies for NYO event winners, long before officials started distributing medals for the top five in each event. In the early nineties, he and a group of other NYO officials inspired the launch of Junior NYO, which allowed students in grades first through sixth to participate in Native Games.

In 2018, Ben Snowball was honored with an NYO Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ben also loved dancing, singing, and drumming and was a part of many Yup’ik dance groups over his lifetime. He brought Alaska Native culture into Anchorage School District classrooms, where he taught students drum-making, dancing, and soapstone carving. His passion for sharing his culture took him beyond the classroom to travel throughout the world.

In 2018, as the host of NYO, CITC was honored to recognize Ben for his impact on the Games with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ben’s lasting mark on the hundreds of young people who participated in the Games, learned about culture from him, and were inspired by him will not be forgotten.