Athlete of the Week: Nome-Beltz seniors Caden Hanebeth and Dawson Schaeffer
NOME, Alaska (KTUU) - The sports scene in Nome, Alaska is known for two things.
“Nome is known for basketball. Basketball and the Iditarod,” Nome-Beltz High School senior Dawson Schaeffer said inside the Nanooks gym after practice.
But only one of those sports is celebrated all year round.
“The community really gets behind and loves basketball, that’s what they love,” said Pat Callahan, Nome-Beltz boys basketball coach for the last 19 years.
This can make for a difficult reality for seniors at Nome-Beltz when thinking of life after hoops.
“I’m just confused right now. I don’t know what it’s going to be like after I am not playing anymore, if i don’t go to college, you know.” said Caden Hanebeth, the other Nanook senior.
Hanebeth and Schaeffer represent the next graduating class of talent to come out of the school off of the Bering Sea, but the dynamic duo caught fire well before their final year of high school ball together.
“Even in junior high when I lived in Kotzebue we were like best friends, so we;ve always played together,” Schaeffer added. “I came here in elementary school for (Callahan’s) camp and we were both MVP of that, so yeah we have just always played together so it’s awesome.”
Schaeffer moved from Kotzebue to Nome prior to high school specifically for its basketball culture, and it is paying off.
”Dawson had a tough season with an ankle injury, (but he’s) getting better everyday,” Callahan said of Schaeffer. “Really enjoy him in the practices. He is vocal, loud, encouraging with the younger guys in the practices.”
Callahan has been coaching Nome-Beltz boys basketball since before Hanebeth as even born, but even he has not seen a basketball IQ quite like Hanebeth’s
“He knows what’s going on, like I always say he’s the smartest basketball player I’ve ever coached,” Callahan said of Hanebeth. “I think he knows five times more about basketball than myself ... and I think he’d make a great coach someday.”
Hanebeth and Schaeffer likely will coach in some capacity, commonplace in the community for former star basketball players to return the favor and give back to the youth.
“It means a lot, you know,” said Hanebeth, who is averaging 10 points, 10 rebound and six assists a game, according to Callahan. “I grew up here so I’ve always looked up to those guys and it’s cool to see them come out. ... It’s just fun, all the little kids are looking up to me, so give back to them.”
“I like helping kids,” Schaeffer added. “I work with the youth all the time at the rec center and everything so it’s awesome.”
As long as there is a ball, a hoop and gym in Nome, ball will always be life.
Nome-Beltz will compete in the Western Conference tournament March 10-12 in Kotzebue, where the seniors and the rest of the Nanooks will find out if they punched their tickets to the Class 3A state tournament March 23-26 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
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