NYO team sportsmanship award carries legacy of Gloria Walker
Although dozens of student athletes will leave the Alaska Airlines Center with medals this weekend, the Gloria Walker Team Sportsmanship Award is the highest honor given out at the Native Youth Olympics.
The award is named after the late Gloria Walker, a native athlete, coach and counsel who coordinated the NYO games for years and worked at Clark Junior High School. Walker died in 2000, but her legacy continues in more ways the just the award bearing her name.
"She really got me involved in the games," said Gloria's husband Brian Walker. "It was really kind of nice to be a part of something bigger than me, bigger than a lot of things that I have been involved in."
Brian has continued coaching the Anchorage NYO team.
"It's really helped me to help athletes kind of define who they are. When they move into Anchorage from the villages, they kind of lose their sense of culture a little bit and these games bring back who they are, who their ancestors were and why they were," Walker said. "The idea of having sportsmanship and having a community helping each other, I think that really honors my wife because that's what she really did."
Each coach and judge nominates one team to receive the award.
"It's just really a sense of pride. It comes down to the coaches and for them to really talk with their athletes about good sportsmanship, about helping other athletes," Walker said. "These are the only games in the world where athletes who are competing against one another will help and coach one another."
The Gloria Walker Team Sportsmanship Award will be announced Saturday.