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UAF athletes welcome elementary students in Fairbanks District back to school

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 8:32 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The first day of school is often filled with sadness (or relief) from parents and may be a little nerves for the kids. Helping alleviate some of the back-to-school jitters were University of Alaska student-athletes, as all 10 UAF sports were represented across 14 different elementary school’s last week for the first day of the 2020-21 academic school year.

UAF student-athletes welcome Hunter Elementary students into the new school year.
UAF student-athletes welcome Hunter Elementary students into the new school year.(Nathan Pearsall (UAF Athletics))

Many of the athletes come from different parts of the country - and even the world - while some even went to elementary at some of the schools they visited, like cross country runner and former University Park Elementary grad Nolan Earnest.

“It means a lot,” Earnest said of being able to represent the community. “You know, when I was a kid, I actually used to think the hockey team was in the NHL. They were my heroes so it is an honor.”

While it may have seemed like just yesterday they were experiencing their first day of school, these student-athletes are continuing their educational careers in college, with Earnest pursuing a film degree.

“I am excited about the opportunities running gives as well as working on film projects,” Earnest said of the upcoming academic year. “It is going to be interesting with more in-person classes. I am interested to see what the relationship with the teachers is going to be like, because it definitely felt more limited last year.”

While cross country and men’s and women’s basketball were greeting students at Hunter Elementary, the rifle and swim programs were at U Park welcoming in students into the new year. Senior swimmer Camille Dayton, of Big Lake, has made Fairbanks her temporary home as she competes and earns her biological sciences degree. During her time in the Golden Heart City, she has noticed the community’s support in the University - and vice versa.

“What is nice is that we get to see the people out there that are supporting us,” Dayton said. “We actually see a lot of UAF people actually coming into schools and we know we have that support and pretty much showing our support and having that support in return is really nice.”

UAF Volleyball players welcome elementary students into the new school year.
UAF Volleyball players welcome elementary students into the new school year.(Nathan Pearsall (UAF Athletics))

The UAF student-athletes began instruction Monday as fall sports return to action. The volleyball program will be traveling to Hawaii this weekend for four games, while the cross country program will host its annual Blue and Gold meet on Saturday. Swimming will host its intrasquad meet on September 17, while rifle will see its first action October 15.

UAF Rifle welcomes U Park students into the new school year.
UAF Rifle welcomes U Park students into the new school year.(Nathan Pearsall (UAF Athletics))

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