На Аляске существует старообрядческая девичья волейбольная команда под названием the Nikolaevsk Lady Warriors. Пока команда не может похвалиться большими спортивными достижениями, но наши старообрядческие девочки настойчивы, и мы уверены — их ждет большое спортивное будущее. Кроме того, старообрядческая волейбольная команда стала одним из факторов, благодаря которому старообрядчество стало более известно среди ребят Аляски. Аарон Селбиг с любовью описал наших старообрядческих дев-воительниц.
More than volleyball served
Nikolaevsk tourney spotlights sports, community’s culture
By Aaron Selbig
The Nikolaevsk gym was just like any other for a home volleyball match — filled with excited, pumped-up fans, homemade signs rooting on the home team and mothers with Camcorders capturing all the action. There was only one noticeable difference between the bleachers there and those of any other small Alaska school — these fans cheered on their team, the Nikolaevsk Lady Warriors, in Russian.
Nikolaevsk is the Kenai Peninsula’s oldest Old Believer village — it was settled in 1968 — and is home to about 350 people. The small community, rich in culture and steeped in tradition, has only recently embraced the sport of girls’ volleyball.
«When we first started, nobody really knew anything about volleyball,» said Nikolaevsk coach Bea Klaich, who has coached the team since its inception seven years ago and also coaches the girls’ basketball team. «I started inviting moms to come and play and scrimmage against us. The more fans we got to come out, the more the excitement built.»
Last year, the Lady Warriors qualified for the state tournament even though they continually face a severe handicap — with a student population of just 18 kids, every single girl in the school must play volleyball in order for them to field a team.
Still, the team manages to compete at a high level in the Borealis Conference and, at their 6th annual home tournament held last week, they finished in a three-way tie for first place with teams from Kenny Lake and Tok.
It was against the Tok Wolverines, who placed first in the conference last year, that Nikolaevsk faced their greatest challenge — and only loss — of the tournament.
With their fans packing the bleachers, stomping and chanting for them, the Lady Warriors came out fast against the Wolverines and won the first set, 25-16.
In the second set, the team found itself down 5-11 and was beginning to show signs of frustration, when Klaich called a timeout. On the next play, a perfect set found junior Cassie Fefelov at the net. Fefelov, Nikolaevsk’s team kills leader and an all-tournament selection at last year’s state tournament, soared above the net and spiked the ball with authority into the Wolverines’ side, sparking her team to regain the set lead at 21-20.
The victory was not to be, however, as the Lady Warriors ran out of gas at the end, falling to Tok in a close, hard-fought battle, 25-16, 22-25, 22-25 and 23-25.
«We did better than I expected. They slaughtered us last year,» said Fefelov moments after receiving her prize for being the Lady Warriors’ player of the game — a homemade caramel apple.
Photographer: Aaron Selbig, Homer News. Nikolaevsk volleyball fans catch the action between the Lady Warriors and the Tok Wolverines Oct. 24.
Fefelov, who also stars for the Nikolaevsk basketball team, has been playing volleyball for six years. She was inspired to play, she said, by her mother, Tina, who played for Ninilchik when she was in high school and still plays with the Nikolaevsk girls in their practices.
Tina Fefelov and Cassie’s grandmother, Miffie Kvasnikoff, were among those cheering the Lady Warriors from the stands. After the game, Tina Fefelov called her daughter an «ambassador» and said the most important part of the Nikolaevsk tournament was the camaraderie formed among all the girls, some of whom traveled from as far away as Unalaska to play there.
«Four of the teams sleep in the school,» she said. «We take good care of them. We feed them Russian food and introduce them to our culture. They are always interested in our religion and the people out here.»
Klaich said it took the efforts of the entire community of Nikolaevsk, especially the parents of the Lady Warriors, to pull off the tournament every year.
«I think they come for the food,» joked Klaich, noting that more than 5,000 miles of travel went into this year’s tournament. «We are honored to have them. I think they all they enjoy the small school atmosphere and our parents pitch in and make it an incredible experience. The biggest thing that it shows them is that we’re just like any other school and our kids are just like other kids. We have a unique culture here but we’re just like anybody else.»
Aaron Selbig can be reached at email@example.com
Story last updated at 8:39 PM on Wednesday, October 29, 2008