Football's Newest, Northern Fans Make Playoffs

Still, the new sport engaged the kids like never before, and attendance and grades shot up.

"They needed something more, and it was outrageous for them to try it but they did," said Cathy Parker, a Florida woman who heard about the boys of Barrow from 4,000 miles away.

She decided to make it her mission to raise more than a half million dollars in less than a year to aid the team's travel budget and give them a better field.

"I'm basically just a woman who saw a story on ESPN about this town Barrow in Alaska that was struggling to reverse their high teen birth rate and high dropout rate and high drug use. And they implemented a football program," Parker said. "My family believes football can do a lot of things to encourage young people. And it was just one of those things that kept burning in my heart and I wanted to do something."

Down to the Wire on Opening Day

Parker raised the funds through her church and small donors, and for the new season a professional turf field was flown in and put together literally next to the Arctic Ocean, just in time for this past weekend's first game and their donor's first visit.

The entire town came out for the emotional game to give thanks and watch the Whalers play on bright blue turf painted in the school colors.

But the Whalers began to fall apart under the pressure.

At one point a commentator said you could almost "feel the air coming out of this stadium."

Then, as they were down by two touchdowns with two minutes to go, the unthinkable happened and the Whalers completed a touchdown, recovered a turnover, and with 42 seconds left on the clock this hard luck team of misfits turned into winners.

"Miracles, they keep happening!" Parker said.

After the big win, instead of dunking the coach in Gatorade, the team sprinted off the field and straight into the Arctic -- a group of kids who never knew beating the odds was an option until they got a chance to actually do it.

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This report originally aired on August 24, 2007

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