Bibliographic Citation: D’Orso, Michael. Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006. 323p. ISBN: 9781582346236.
Michael D’Orso’s Eagle Blue follows Fort Yukon’s high school basketball team, the Fort Yukon Eagles, to the state finals.
In Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska exposes Fort Yukon, Alaska as, in the eyes of many of its residents, a “forsaken” community. Though the town’s cultural heritage is disappearing, Fort Yukon is not a part of mainstream American culture either. Most of the town’s residents are living below the poverty line and feel “trapped.” Drug and alcohol abuse are widespread and even suicide is a common occurrence. From November to March, however, the residents of Fort Yukon unite for a shared purpose: supporting the high school basketball team, the Fort Yukon Eagles. Basketball is Fort Yukon’s strongest link to mainstream America. Each season brings the town a renewed sense of unity, as well as a renewed sense of identity.
Michael D’Orso’s treats the Eagles, as well as their friends and families, with compassion. His readers will come to know some of them intimately, and it is this opportunity that allows for a deeper connection to D’Orso’s story. Reading Eagle Blue, I felt particularly connected to Matt Shewfelt, an Eagle, as well as to Coach Bridges. Matt, a sweet senior with a foul mouth, whose brothers call him “Mother Matt,” and Coach Bridges is able to quell the team’s gloom after the most disappointing of losses. Another of D’Orso’s strengths in writing Eagle Blue is his treatment of the boys’ games. With riveting, fast-paced writing, the scenes do justice to the sport.
TOC, “Fort Yukon Boys Basketball Team,” “People of Fort Yukon,” Prologue
Epilogue, Afterward, “Notes, Sources, and Acknowledgments,” “A Note on the Author,” “A Note on the Type”