Northern Lights: One Woman, Two Teams, and the Football Field That Changed Their Lives

Northern Lights: One Woman, Two Teams, and the Football Field That Changed Their Lives


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785223801
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 188,693
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

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.

David Thomas, LMSW, is the counseling director for men and boys at Daystar. A popular speaker and the coauthor of five books, he is a frequent guest on national television and radio, and a regular contributor to ParentLife magazine. David and his wife, Connie, have a daughter and twin sons

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

Acknowledgments 211

About the Authors 213

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Northern Lights: One Woman, Two Teams, and the Football Field That Changed Their Lives 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
PrincessGlor 19 days ago
I first heard of this book through the radio personality Delilah on her Facebook page. I then found the book on NetGalley and decided to give it a try. This book was the first I had heard of this effort to give the town of Barrow a football field which in turn would hopefully give the failing town a better future. The book is interesting. I enjoyed learning about the effort that provided Barrow with the much needed football field and all the miracles God granted to bring it to fruition. It certainly is mind boggling when you consider the amount of difficulties it took for this to happen. Cathy presents the story well and it’s a quick and easy heartwarming read. If you enjoy football, faith and a feel good story, give this one a try! I received this book from NetGalley and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
Anonymous 8 months ago
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.
Anonymous 9 months ago
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.
lee2staes 9 months ago
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.
Bonafede_sk 9 months ago
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!
marongm8 9 months ago
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.