Shishmaref girl’s basketball team rebounding after team van broken into

Shishmaref girl’s basketball team rebounding after team van broken into
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 6:53 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Shishmaref girl’s and boy’s teams are in Anchorage for the Alaska state basketball championships that are being played at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Wednesday night, however, turned into a nightmare as the girls were celebrating a win by going out for pizza at the Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria. When they returned to their rental van in the parking lot, their excitement from the game turned quickly to shock.

“We looked around and all our stuff was gone — our bags, shoes, jerseys,” senior Autumn Barr said.

Someone had broken the driver’s side window and made off with backpacks and personal items, as well as pretty much everything the team needed to play in the tournament.

“They were really upset,” said Shishmaref Assistant Principal Steve Bellande, who accompanied the teams. “They were worried about their stuff, and how can we find it, and what are we going to do for shoes?

“Then the big concern was, we lost our jerseys and we have to play in a tournament.”

Shishmaref is a tight community and many of its residents are in Anchorage for the tournament, cheering on the boy’s and girl’s teams.

Nichole Turner is a parent of one of the players and also the girl’s team chaperone. When she heard what happened, Turner quickly put the word out to fellow villagers and said so far, they’ve raised nearly $2,000 to replace lost items.

“They’re supporting us like 100%, they kept asking for somebody to start a page, you know, because they’re all ready to help,” Turner said.

The girls went shoe shopping Thursday afternoon using donated money, but there was still the question of the missing jerseys. That’s when Billy Strickland, director of The Alaska School Activities Association, had an idea.

Seeing that the primary colors of Shishmaref School and Service High School in Anchorage were similar — green and white — Strickland asked Service Activities Principal Jim Bell if there was any chance the girls could borrow the Cougars jerseys.

“Sure enough, we had a full box of jerseys for them to be able to use, so we were happy to be able to help,” Bell said.

Shishmaref senior Vicki Olanna said she was thankful for something to wear, although she didn’t plan on dwelling on the bad things that had happened during their visit.

“I’ll be thinking about the game because we worked hard to come here and we just want to go as far as we can,” she said.