Barrow High School has special bond to NFL Hall of Famer Larry Csonka
The Barrow High School Whalers celebrated their first state football crown with the win over Homer for the Division 3 crown.
The team from the nation's most northern city had plenty of support from fans who made the trip to Palmer High School. One fan in attendance truly understands what they chased.
Larry Csonka played for the 1972 Miami Dolphins team that capped off the only undefeated season in NFL history with the win in Super Bowl VII on his way to the Hall of Fame. Csonka became interested in Barrow after he shot an episode of his outdoor show there in 2004.
"They said, 'Why don't you come talk to the high school kids because we have a dropout rate of 50 percent in high school,'" Csonka recalled.
The conversation took place two years before the Whalers first took the field.
"I never dreamed they would have football in Barrow, Alaska. I knew the kids wanted it, I just didn't see how," said Csonka, which is where Cathy Parker entered the picture.
"The Whalers were playing on gravel, of course, they can't have grass on the tundra," Parker said.
She then organized the $800,000 effort to build the blue turf field known as the "smurf turf." Parker came up with the idea after she saw Barrow's story on television in North Florida, where she lived at the time.
"They showed the harshest of the climate, and that they were playing on gravel, and that's when I knew I had to do something," Parker said.
However, shipping tons of supplies to one of the most remote regions of North America did not prove easy.
The Whalers got their new field in 2007 and made their history with their first state title 10 years later.