Welcome to Friday Field of Dreams, where we'll unveil the nation's most picturesque, historically or culturally significant or plain old fun prep sports facilities in the nation, one stadium or arena at a time.
While there are plenty of places to kick the series off, none feels more appropriate than Barrow, Alaska, one of the northernmost points in the United States and a land where, if we don't get a profile in now, it might be too cold to write about by the time we get to it.
Barrow, Alaska is home to a number of things; one of the U.S. Air Force's long range radar sites, the remnants of a former whaling community and, allegedly, the world's northernmost trees. It is more than 600 miles north of Anchorage, more than 2,000 miles away from Seattle and sits above Iceland in terms of latitude. It is on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. It goes without saying that Barrow is very, very cold.
Yet, Barrow needs a school for all the children who grow up there. And Barrow High School needs sports teams. Enter the Whalers, who for years fought through the perpetual ice and snow to play indoor sports.
Unfortunately, Barrow is so cold -- it only climbs above 32 degrees roughly 100 days per year -- that the school's football team had been dormant until 2006, when the state agreed to help fund a one-time re-start of the team. A number of media outlets covered the Barrow community's resilience as it rallied around football as a way to improve on a high school dropout rate of nearly 50 percent.
A woman in Jacksonville named Cathy Parker saw one report on the town on ESPN and decided to help raise funds to build the school a new field. As profiled in this feature from the National High School Sports Federation, Parker traveled around the South and eventually raised more than $500,000 to fund and install a new artificial turf field right on the banks of the Arctic Ocean.
In August of 2007, Cathy Parker Field was unveiled in Barrow, Alaska. It was a pristine, Boise State-blue colored artificial turf field with golden end zones. When set next to the deep blue Arctic Ocean, it made for a completely spectacular scene.
That scene, which you can see in the photos here, is still there today, making Cathy Parker Field one of the nation's most picturesque sports venues. It may not have the price tag or capacity of Allen High's Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas, but it almost certainly has more heart and soul.