Continue the Story: Jeff Kinneeveauk

2 months ago
Jeff Kinneeveauk shares how he came to NNC from rural Alaska—and why he chose to stay. Website | https://www.nnu.edu/campaign Facebook ...

English subtitle

I’m originally from Alaska, from a rural
community.
One of the 600 rural communities up there.
There’s a gentlemen named Carl Tiny Bellamy.
His wife worked with my mother, and I think
they hatched a plan when I was in 3rd grade,
or something like that, that this kid is
gonna go to NNC.
Fast-forward to when I graduated from high
school: Tiny calls me up, calls my mom up,
and says “You’re coming to NNC.”
To be honest with you, I did not know what NNC is
—was—but I did know they had a basketball team.
Growing up in rural Alaska, you always dreamed
beyond your walls.
Basketball, to me, focused me on a goal.
Focused me on, really, an identity.
I really wanted to play college basketball,
and Tiny offered an opportunity for me to
pursue that, and that’s how I came to learn
about NNC.
And I was blessed to be offered a scholarship
to play for the basketball team here.
Basketball got me here—it was the tool,
it was the driver, it was the inspiration—
but it didn’t keep me here.
Ok, basketball got me here, but what kept
me here was the people, the fans, my teammates,
the students, the professors.
Cuz I could go play basketball anywhere—I thought.
And I still think I could go play basketball
anywhere.
Even at 40+ years old, I still think that.
And what I found at NNC was that yes we want
to be competitive, we want to win,
we want to raise banners.
But, beyond that is the love people have for you.
No matter where you’re from, whether you’re
from a village Northwest Alaska: 800 kids
that only see sunlight 3 months out of the
year and it's 40 below.
We embrace you.
We accept you.
No matter your story.
God has blessed me.
He’s put people in my life that have impacted me.
Have grown me.
That have challenged me.
There’s a laundry list of people I want
to go through.
Whether it be my best friend from college,
who’s a pastor now.
Whether it be Dr. Ford, who has a dorm named
after him.
Or Dr. Sharpton who went on road trips with
us and drove the bus.
Whether it’s Coach Weidenbach, Coach Sanders.
But it all started with Tiny.
Who saw something in me that I didn’t believe in.
Who pushed me.
Who taught me what it is to be a man,
to take care of your family, to have responsibility.
Tiny passed away this past spring.
I just moved here in August of last year.
I called the man up, after 20 years of being
gone.
I said “Tiny, don’t know if you heard
but I’m moving back to the area.”
He’s over 90 years old and he shares with
me,
“Jeff, it will be an honor to spend the last days of my life with you.”
“What?
He’s feeling honored?
I owe tons to this man, but he’s telling
me it would be an honor.
I was the one that was gonna feel honored
to spend the last—his last days—
and take him to his appointments and take him to ball games,
but he flipped it on me.
This is what NNC, NNU, produces: men of that
fortitude.
To sit there at the end of their days and
still be humble.
That’s the impact Tiny and NNC had on my
life.