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  • Charles Knowles

"my name is kyle worl" - Team Alaska Changes lives

My name is Kyle Worl. I am from Juneau, Alaska, and a proud member of team Alaska. This is my fifth Arctic Winter Games. It also marks 10 years from my first AWG which was also held in Alaska in 2014. Now, 10 years later, we're back in Alaska. It's a nice arc for me, a 10 year span of participating in the Arctic Winter games and seeing my growth as an athlete—to now being one of the senior athletes, one of the oldest athletes, and now shifting more to a coaching role. It's [Arctic Sports] a sport I love.

In a recent interview, I was fortunate to be able to speak with well known athlete and coach Kyle Worl. 

My goal? To bring to light the incredible mission of Team Alaska as a whole, Team Alaska Executive Director Sarah Frampton, and Kyle himself. 

The accomplishments and athletic proficiency of Kyle are well known. What is not widely known, and which hardly gets the recognition it deserves, is the impact that Team Alaska and the Games have on the participants and their community, and the dedication and hard work of those who make all this possible. 

“The Arctic Winter Games focus is on community and personal growth.” - Kyle Worl

Kyle works to outreach to local and remote places in Alaska with the mission of bringing the opportunity that the Games afford the youth who participate, to as many people as possible. Much of this outreach is to the communities of southeast Alaska, as well as Statewide. 

He sees involvement in Arctic Sports as a life changing experience for himself and wants to share that growth with as many as possible. It's a path toward being able to feel a sense of belonging. Joining a sport means feeling like you're part of a community and part of a team; and that can be really uplifting for youth. 

When you are competing in Arctic Sports you are working on a personal record, It's not about outdoing the person next to you. You're working on self growth, and your fellow athletes whether they are on your team or not, are all there to support you in that growth, which is a really powerful thing for the youth competing. Your coach and coaches from the opposing teams will be there cheering you on. “The kids don't have to be stellar athletes,” he said, “they can just be themselves in the sport.”

Kyle emphasized that we are all part of a community and all trying to do our best. That is really the spirit of the Games, It's a healthy mindset and that sense of community and belonging is why he sees the youth he works with so impacted. They're part of something, and there's people in their corner that care about them.  Particularly with Alaska native students, where there are a lot of negative stereotypes about Alaska Native people and a difficult history—sometimes native youth have a difficult time embracing their own cultural identity. Through Team Alaska, and Arctic Sports in particular, these are indigenous games, and it's uplifting for Alaskan participants to see that this is something that is a part of their culture. It's highlighted on the world stage, just as any other sport. They feel pride in themselves to be Alaskan or Alaskan Native and it makes them want to stay involved. 

He went on to tell me how this relates to leadership because leadership is being involved. It's not being on your own and doing your own thing. leadership means that you have an important role in your community.  And that is what Team Alaska teaches our athletes; that our youth have an important role in their community in different ways. Whether they go on to become a coach or take on jobs in their tribe, government, or schools, it's simply being active in your community and seeing your impact. 

It can be hard to describe how important the Arctic Winter Games are for some people. It's unfortunate, but it happens that many children are being raised under conditions of neglect and abuse. When asked, Kyle said that in these circumstances, it's particularly uplifting to see youth with harsh backgrounds become involved with Team Alaska—as community and sense of belonging is so foreign under these conditions. In their journey of personal growth they often feel the positive impact of what they are learning and fully embrace these qualities. Going on to become good future leaders and positive role models for their peers. 


Kyle’s love of Arctic Sports and their positive impact is inspiring, and his mission to share them with others saw a major win in February when he successfully advocated for the adoption of Arctic sports into the North American Indigenous Games, a battle that took years to win.   

Kyle Worl and Team Alaska are illuminating a path of hope and personal development for Alaskan youth. It is my hope that they will see your support in the years to come, as we work together to bring this wonderful opportunity to as many people as possible. 


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