Scammon Bay's Kiah Charlie is a hoops hero because she is going to college."“A lot of people are telling me they are proud of me. People from other villages are telling me they look up to me and how they want to better their life,” she said. Photo credit
Scammon Bay’s Kiah Charlie is from a small village, but she’s always dreamed big.
Whether it’s shooting jumpers on the basketball court or shooting for the stars in her mind, this talented teen has made her dreams come true.
“Before the season started, I told my coach I was going to try and make myself a better player so I could try to get player of the year,” Charlie told me.
She envisioned it and then she went out and made it happen.
The 5-foot-4 guard won Alaska Class 1A player-of-the-year honors and was the catalyst for a 28-0 Scammon Bay team that won its second consecutive state title under coach Herschel Sundown.
She scored 22 points in the championship game, a 71-35 win over Selawik. She sank five 3-pointers, made nine steals and handed off six assists.
Then she went to the AABC Alaska Senior All-Star Game and dropped 27 points in front of a group of coaches from the Northwest Athletic Conference.
The coaches from Skagit Valley College in Mt. Vernon, Washington, took an interest in the diminutive dynamo from Scammon Bay.
“They came and watched me play during the all-star game. I didn’t know they were going to be there until after my game. The assistant coach came and talked to me,” she said.
Charlie played well despite feeling anxiety before and during the early parts of the game that featured the best 1A and 2A seniors from all over the state.
“I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know anybody on my team,” she said. “Then they started passing to me and it helped me relax. It was fun.”
Charlie later signed her letter of intent to play basketball at Skagit Valley, a two-year community college.
Last season the Cardinals won the NWAC’s North Division and reached the final four of the league tournament at the end of the season.
Charlie understands the level of play from college to small-schools Alaska will be a huge leap, but she comes from a proud program with a winning tradition and is confident she can hang in the NWAC.
“There’s really no reason to be nervous because everybody is playing the same game,” she said.
It’s a rarity for a college basketball player to come from Scammon Bay, a Western Alaska coastal village of 500 people.
But she’s hoping to start a tradition.
“A lot of people are telling me they are proud of me. People from other villages are telling me they look up to me and how they want to better their life,” she said.
“It makes me feel happy to hear that.”
Van Williams is a freelance writer in Anchorage and a correspondent for the Alaska School Activities Association.