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First-year head coach Fred Young doesn’t care that Eagle River High only won two games last year. He doesn’t care that 10 of his 12 players are new to the team.

His sights are set on making the state tournament and changing the attitude of the boys basketball team.

“We’re looking to change the culture,” Young said. “We want to make state and get what we can on the way there.”

The entire team feels the same way, Young said.

“Their work ethic is out the roof right now,” he said.

Even the start of a new sports season can’t erase the way Chugiak High’s 2011 football campaign ended.

Chugiak was forced to forfeit three of its wins due to use of an ineligible player and missed the playoffs. But some of those football players are hoping to use what happened this fall as fuel for the 2011-12 basketball season.

“It’s motivation for us football players to exceed in another sport,” senior Steven Puterbaugh said.

Surrounded by hostile forces in a faraway land, Army Command Sgt. Major Terry Gardner spent Christmas singing with his troops.

“I was able to sit down with them and sing Christmas carols,” Sgt. Maj. Gardner said during a conference call from Afghanistan between he and Col. Morris Goins and Anchorage-area media on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Gardner explained that he visited several outposts in the restive Khost and Paktia provinces during the holiday. At each stop, he asked the youngest and oldest soldiers to choose their favorite holiday songs.

Janie Williams, the owner and director of the Stars Dance Studio, got up for the second time to shut the door as a gust of wind blew it open.

“Our building is a little bit older,” she said. “But it serves its purpose.”

The second floor has done more than that, though, as number 6A has been the home of the Stars Dance Studio — and Williams’ dream — for the past 20 years.

“I never really planned on opening a studio,” she said. “I was actually a legal secretary for a few years.”

Anchorage Police have identified the driver in a New Year’s Day collision between a pickup truck and two pedestrians in downtown Anchorage as 21-year-old Tex Daniels II of Chugiak.

According to police, Ashley Marie Brotherton and Clayton Tyler Wilbanks, both 24, were walking northbound alongside I Street shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 1 when they were struck from behind by a red 1994 Dodge Ram 1500. Both were taken to local hospitals. Police spokeswoman Marlene Lammers said Brotherton remains in critical condition, while she reported Wilbanks’ condition as stable.

From the championships to the controversies, local athletes made plenty of headlines in 2011. Here’s how it all went down:


Eagle River’s Kinsey Loan earned a trip to the Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Estonia after the Chugiak High senior won a silver medal at the U.S. National Championships in Maine.

Chugiak’s Jake Berkowitz won the Copper Basin 300 sled dog race, arriving at the Paxson finish line six minutes ahead of Lance Mackey.

New Eagle River football field general Jason Brewer plans to bring a no-nonsense coaching style, enthusiasm and plenty of experience to the job when he takes over in the fall.

“The kids know me, the kids know what I’m about,” said Brewer, who previously served for two years as an assistant under Kenny Ray. “I’m about discipline and having fun.”

Brewer isn’t technically a general, but he did recently wrap up his Army career as a 1st lieutenant who returned from a tour in Pakistan and Afghanistan last fall. He recently took a new job with the National Guard.

Bridges new and old, legislators coming and going and a major plane crash were among the headlines this year in Chugiak-Eagle River. In case you missed them, here’s a month-by-month account of the biggest stories to appear this year in the Star:



A new law allowing fireworks in the Municipality of Anchorage on New Years Eve led to dozens of complaints following a loud holiday celebration. The only major injury reported, however, was when an Eagle River airman lost his hand in a fireworks-related mishap.