The Best Quotes Of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I try to be a looking ahead kind of person, but I’m also a major history nerd, so it’s fun to look back on the past. Not that 2015 is more signifciant to Americans as say, 1776 or 1863 or 1945 or 2001. But things happened in 2015 just the same.

For me, one of the best parts about being a journalist — a career that essentially started in the late 1980s when I first started college, is getting to know those who have been interview subjects. I spent just about all of my years in this crazy business called the media as a sportswriter, so I’ve interacted with everyone from anonymous high school softball players and cross country coaches to Hall of Fame icons from baseball, basketball and football and colorful characters from the world of sports. In my two-plus years at Alaska Sporting Journal, I haven’t quite checked at the door my sports reporter roots and have done my best to tell stories about athletes who love to fish and hunt. But I’ve also enjoyed spreading my wings elsewhere and gotten to know some interesting folks along the way. In that spirit of communication, here are some of my favorite quotes from the pages of this magazine from 2015:

“It’s one of the big conflicts of life for me — the fact that I can’t be an opera singer and a gold miner. I can be one or the other. That’s something that took me a long time to come to terms with. Which one or the other I’m going to be I don’t know at this point in time. I grew up in Alaska and I love ice climbing and skiing. And I love being in Nome and gold mining and have that part in me. And then I have the classical music and love of the arts part. And they just do not mesh well together.”

“It hasn’t been an altogether positive experience; there’s no way I can say it has. There have been many, many challenges, and some of them have threatened to break me completely. But sometimes it takes more courage for when to stop than more courage to keep doing something. But I’m glad I didn’t stop; all the hard times I’ve had, I didn’t quit.”

-Discovery Channel’s Bering Sea Gold dredger and aspring opera singer Emily Riedel of Homer (April)

“I think if we’re honest with ourselves, there is always fear and in the back of our minds the what ifs? But as I prepare for trips that are very intense and dangerous, I try to prepare in a fashion that becomes instinct — to be able to shoot on instinct and think on instinct. To do the things so repetitively before I get there, the odds are in our favor to do the right things. But it’s healthy and good to have a little fear, because it’s a respect; fear keeps you on your toes.”

“It definitely goes down as one of the top hunts that I’ll forever cherish. And that’s because Alaska is so unique to its own. When you to Alaska it’s not only views and not only wildlife; it’s just wild. It’s so free and untamed and uncharted. You just feel so small and so insignificant against such a massive wilderness.”

-Freddy Harteis, The Hollywood Hunter, remembering his bear hunt in Alaska, an adventure his late father Fred Sr. told him stories about, prompting the younger Harteis to do the same. (June)

“Creativity and challenges are what I thrive on. That’s what I do when racing the Iditarod. We try to recognize the problem, break it down to its most basic elements and solve it. Whether it’s building an new racing sled or coming up with no strategies in the Iditarod, it’s problem solving. There’s definitely the mad scientist aspect for when you come to a crossroads of a problem that you don’t have an answer for.”

“It’s an incredible feeling. For 355 days a year I’m a dog musher, and to develop these dogs to their highest potential and to make each dog the best athlete that their genetic potential has allowed them and help them maximize that potential. That’s what a dog musher is, in my mind. For the other 10 days a year, give or take, we are focused on not necessarily winning the Iditarod, but running the best possible race. And if I run the team to the best of their ability, that is a goal met.”

-Seward’s Dallas Seavey, who last March won his second consecutive and third overall Iditarod title. (March)

“I’ve always looked at it as my life was very easy before that. I was pretty athletic and school was always easy for me. I never had to work hard at anything. So I looked at it as I finally had a challenge in my life; it’s something I’m going to have to work at.”

“I never had a depression phase; I never went through any kind of anything,. After surgery when I woke up, nobody had to me that I was paralyzed. You knew it. It was just, ‘OK, now what?’”

“Things may take a little bit longer and I may have to get creative with how I do some things. And there are some things I just flat out can’t do. But that’s part of it. So be it.”

-University of Alaska, Fairbanks rifle coach Dan Jordan, who’s led the Nanooks to three national championships after he was paralyzed throughout his lower body in a climbing accident years earlier. (March)

“If you think about it, any anthropologist will tell you man has been the nomadic hunter for far, far longer than he has farmed in the world than it really is. I guess I feel like me and my wife were kind of keeping up the tradition; I shouldn’t say tradition but should just say (keeping up) a way of life — with the human population growing — that is dwindling.”
 “I’m glad that we live like that, and I’m proud of it.”

-Heimo Korth, who lives with his wife, Edna, alone in the massive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of a handful of families profiled in Animal Planet’s The Last Alaskans. (July)

“We had a fish on and everyone was racing around the boat to try and get to the pole. And when I jumped up from inside the cabin (to run out) my thumb got stuck in the door jam. I smashed my thumb, and I’m sitting there crying my eyes out but still trying to reel in that fish. I ended up landing the fish, and a couple days later my fingernail ended up falling off. So I considered myself being pretty tough for going through such a dramatic experience. So I started pretty young dealing with pain.”

-Anchorage’s Matt Carle, now a star hockey player for the Tampa Bay Lightning, recalling a fishing memory when he was all of 5 years old. (January)

“Well, getting off the plane in Alaska the first thing I saw were rows of bald eagles in the trees. I’d never seen a bald eagle except on TV and in magazines. You were literally surrounded by wilderness. I grew up at the base of Mt. Si. (Twin Peaks) in Washington State and the forests were my stomping grounds. Alaska forests were even bigger and surrounded by ocean and with huge trees. I spent that summer exploring. In my mind I can still see the bears, salmon, sea otters and moose. That was huge to me at 9 years old.”

“Topographically, Alaska has so many virgin areas to explore. There is something special knowing that you are probably the first person to set eyes on an area. Alaska is what is left of the United States in its most original state. I would say it is one of my favorite places in the world. Summers in Alaska are surreal with the northern lights and everything buzzing with life.”

-Former Alaska resident Jeremy Whalen, who last year joined a group of adventurerers on a serpent-filled South American island looking for riches on the Discovery Channel series, Treasure Quest: Snake Island. (August)

“In all the folks I interviewed and was fortunate enough to spend time with, they were not telling me because it was cute or politically correct or sounds good. They’re telling me this because this is who they are. The salmon is in their blood, in their fiber, in their stories and in their culture.”
 “Every single thing about it was authentic and that sense of authenticity was overwhelming to me. The words were one thing, but then when they bring you into their home and they show you the 40 cases of jarred salmon that include king salmon hearts, bellies, livers — the whole thing. That’s what they eat in the winter. This was no BS, man; this is the real deal. When they say they subsist on this fish — they subsist on this fish all year long.”

“I think it’s a very important question: why would I eat wild salmon when I want to save them? Why wouldn’t I want to just leave them alone? It’s hard to understand without a little knowledge. If you’re a consumer and salmon is the third most consumed fish in this country, 91 percent of that is farmed. But if you’re demanding wild salmon, you’re demanding a product that by its nature needs clean, well-preserved habitat in order to keep coming back.”

-Mak Titus, who wrote and directed The Breach, a documentary about protecting wild salmon along the Pacific coast. (May)

“I think that growing up in Alaska, there’s so much that we’re exposed to as such a young age, in terms of the climate and learning how to be comfortable. The way I was raised I was definitely put in situations where I was really happy that I had things available at such a young age. I grew up enjoying those things like skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, biking, hunting — all the kind of stuff that we’re do lucky to have in Alaska.”

“It’s huge for kids to understand all of those skills (I learned) when they’re young, especially living in Alaska. I think that’s great.”

-Anchorage’s Zoe Hickel, who not only fell in love with fishing and hunting as a youngster but also had a passion for hockey, which he plays today for Team USA and with the National Women’s Hockey League’s Boston Pride. (December)

“We have earned our right to live our lives the way we do. We have faced snow, wind, predators, hardships, the forest and the sea. We have fought them all together as a family and made a home in this great land like many other Alaskans have done. The spirit of adventure that’s in us was in the pioneers, the explorers, and anyone else that chose to live their lives on their own terms.”
 “(We’re) not complying with the opinion of ideas of others; our spirit is the same that was in the folks who made America the great land we live in today. What would I say the skeptics to try to convince them about the authenticity our show? Nothing. If their lives are so small that they can find fault in with a God-fearing, close-knit family living a simple, happy life, I feel sorry for them. And I don’t think there’s anything I could say to change their minds. I will say they’re welcome to come sit at our fire and see for themselves, anytime they like.”

-Ami Brown, matriarch of the off-the-grid family featured on the popular but polarizing Discovery Channel series, Alaskan Bush People. (May)

“I met some amazing friends there (in Southern California) and I love the weather and being warm. But I love Alaska; there’s place quite like it. It’s where my best friends live and my family lives.”

“Everyone in the villages really never sees Eskimos on TV. I’d love to have an adventure show and a talk show. I love that (Oprah Winfrey) does so much and she’s such an inspiration for me. One thing about Oprah is she connects with people, and I like that. She build and empire and just want to build my own brand and inspire people.”

-Flying Wild Alaska star Ariel Tweto, who aspires someday to be the “Eskimo Oprah. (September)

“You catch so many fish and it’s so beautiful. It’s such a special time when you’re up there, get away from everything and get into nature and God’s beauty and be hooking into a lot of fish,.”

“For me it doesn’t matter if it’s 4 inches long or 40 inches long. It’s all about the strike and setting the hook. That’s why I can’t understand why some people get so enamored by going out trolling with the rods in the holder. All of a sudden, they hand you the rod. That’s not fishing — that’s reeling. Even in the times when I do go out and saltwater fish, I want to hold the rod.”

“This might be crazy, but my goal in life is to be 100 years old and go fly fishing at Rainbow River Lodge.”

-Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who in retirement has made Alaskan rivers an annual destination to catch trout, grayling and salmon in massive numbers. (September)

Here’s to getting to know a whole new group of Alaskans this year. Have a wonderful 2016!


Originally published at aksportingjournal.com on December 31, 2015.

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