Life is hard in Barrow, Alaska. Football mom Cathy Parker first caught a glimpse of this far-away reality from the comfort of her Jacksonville, Florida, living room while watching a 2006 ESPN report on the Barrow Whalers, a high school football team consisting mostly of Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo natives playing in the most difficult of conditions and trying to overcome the most unlikely of odds. These players—raised in the northernmost town in the United States, where drug abuse is rampant and the high school dropout rate is high—found themselves playing on a gravel field, using flour to draw the lines. And while the community of Barrow felt a strong pride for their boys, many felt football was not worth the investment. That is, until Cathy Parker became involved.
Overcome by a surprising stirring in her soul to reach out and help, Cathy was determined to build a suitable field for the Barrow Whalers. Not fully understanding the many obstacles, both financially and logistically, that would line the path ahead, Cathy charged forward with a determined spirit and a heart for both the football team and the greater community of Barrow. She spearheaded a campaign that raised more than half-a-million dollars through people all around the country rallying around one common goal: changing the lives of young men through football.
This is not just the story of how the Barrow Whalers became the first high school above the Arctic Circle to have a football program. This is the story of how we are sometimes called to the most unlikely of causes and to believe in something a little bit bigger, changing our own lives and the lives of others for the better in the most unexpected of ways.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Sold by:||HarperCollins Publishing|
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About the Author
Cathy Parker and her husband, Carl, have raised four children, all at the ballfields. Cathy has experienced the extreme highs and lows of raising athletes and can relate to the toll athletics can have on the family. She founded the not-for-profits Athletes to Champions and Beyond the Ballfield to help athletes and their families deal with the realities of sports and use their influence for good.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Higher Calling 1
Chapter 2 "It's You" 9
Chapter 3 Resenting Football 13
Chapter 4 Season of Change 21
Chapter 5 Men Built for Others 29
Chapter 6 Introduction to Barrow 41
Chapter 7 Obedience Plus Inspiration 49
Chapter 8 It's Official: Project Alaska 57
Chapter 9 "He'll Prepare Their Hearts" 67
Chapter 10 A Family in the Media 75
Chapter 11 Unexpected Help 85
Chapter 12 A $40,000 Miracle 95
Chapter 13 Welcome to Jacksonville 105
Chapter 14 Fun in the Sun 113
Chapter 15 A Life-Changing Week 119
Chapter 16 Critical State 131
Chapter 17 Black Monday 143
Chapter 18 Warm Reception 149
Chapter 19 Friday Night Sunlight 161
Chapter 20 One More Miracle? 171
Chapter 21 Closing the Books 179
Chapter 22 No Desire for Normal 185
Chapter 23 A New Barrow 195
Appendix 1 2007 Barrow Whalers Roster 203
Appendix 2 2007 Bartram Trail Bears Varsity Roster 207
About the Authors 213
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
People who have never lived in Alaska, much less in the "bush" communities do not understand how difficult it was to build this field. In an area where everything must be flown or barged into the community at great expense, you can almost understand why some people saw better ways to spend these dollars. But Cathy did not just get those boys a field, she taught them that no matter where you call home, you are part of a very large community.
I just finished reading “Northern Lights; One Woman, Two Teams And The Field That Changed Their Life” This is an inspiring true story of an ordinary mom who was compelled by faith to do something extraordinary. After seeing a story on ESPN about a struggling community and high school football team in the most northern town in Alaska, Cathy Parker took in upon herself to rally her community of Jacksonville, Florida, coaches, parents CEOs, community leaders to build an artificial turf field in remote Barrow, aka Utqiaġvik, Alaska. At first I was put off by the seemingly randomness of what Cathy was trying to do. Her lack of connection to and therefore understanding of the community she wanted to help, the astronomical expense, and the impossible logistics of transporting and installing the field had me thinking, why? Isn’t there a better use for all this time, energy, money? My own head was repeating all of the things people who opposed Cathy’s “Project Alaska Turf”. But by the end, I was overwhelmed at the impact this project had on both towns, both teams and others around the whole country! Wow! It was an eye opening, refreshingly inspirational book. I love a true story that can restore my faith in humanity and this story does that.
I was not aware that this book, in addition to the development of a football program, was about the authors conservative Christian beliefs. This was not mentioned in the book description. There is a lot of the book describing her and her family’s religious beliefs. Some parts of the the book are interesting and inspiring, however I was turned off by the conservative Christian narrative. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for this book in exchange for an honest review.
I couldn’t put this book down! Cathy’s journey to build a football field in Barrow and how God met her each step of the way is encouraging and inspiring. If you’re like me, you’ll need tissues!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This book was a mix of The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights and Whale Talk all combined. Cathy's story is so inspiring that it is remarkable the success she has found in a sport that is dominant in her life. The lessons learned throughout the book were so motivational and inspiring that I hope it brings a movement forward in how people view the game of football and the affect it has beyond the field and the gridiron. I love to hear stories of players, coaches and parents paying it forward beyond the field. Our community a football fanatics and they are sure to love Northern Lights. We will definitely consider adding this book to our Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.