Junior NYO athlete pens essay about the importance of the Games
“The most important thing about JNYO is that you are active.”
Last year, when Eve Schlotthauer’s fourth grade teacher asked her class to write an essay about “The Most Important Thing,” Eve didn’t hesitate: She knew what was important to her.
“I really enjoy getting better through practice and planning goals,” said Eve, a Junior Native Youth Olympics (JNYO) athlete who is in fifth grade at Alpenglow Elementary this year. “I chose to write about NYO because activeness is a really good part of it. Being active and athletic gave me confidence.”
Each year, before hundreds of middle and high school athletes travel to Anchorage to compete at Senior NYO, younger athletes from grades 1 – 6 compete at JNYO, typically held in February.
Eve started participating in JNYO in 2020, attending the last in-person State JNYO Games, held in February of that year. Shortly after JNYO 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for NYO host Cook Inlet Tribal Council to transition Senior NYO to a virtual event. In 2021, JNYO also went virtual.
Along with her older sister, Emma, Eve participated in virtual NYO. Her parents set up a kickstand in the family basement so their daughters could film and submit their events for competition.
“Last year, for the virtual Games, Eve got six medals, and this year [for virtual JNYO 2022], she got five,” Eve’s mother said. “The confidence she has gained from JNYO is astounding. This truly is her passion.”
In addition to gaining a newfound self-assurance, Eve has enjoyed learning about the history behind NYO Games.
“I like learning about Alaska Native culture,” Eve shared. “My favorite event is the Scissor Broad Jump because it inspired me, how Alaska Native people traveled from ice berg to ice berg.”
She noted that Head NYO Official Nicole Johnson makes NYO Games a “fun learning opportunity” through teaching students about how the Games developed from traditional Alaska Native games meant to increase agility and prepare people for activities like subsistence hunting.
It hasn’t just been Eve who has connected with Alaska Native culture through the Games, either.
“One of the highlights of NYO is learning so much about Native culture from Nicole,” offered Eve’s mother. “It’s so incredibly exciting to see how these games developed. I think the true joy of this has been in the sharing of culture and really allowing everyone to be able to experience this wonderful activity.”
As Eve looks toward next year — when JNYO may be in-person once again, depending on the state of the pandemic — she anticipates reuniting with other athletes at the Games.
“Sportsmanship is a really good part of JNYO,” she said. “Everyone cheers each other on, congratulates each other, gives high fives. Everybody shakes your hand. That makes JNYO really meaningful.”
Get in on the action! Join CITC for our first in-person Senior NYO Games in two years, April 21 – 23, at the Alaska Airlines Center. Visit the NYO webpages for a schedule of the Games and information about individual events.