MARQUETTE - Addressing supporters of Wildcat athletics during a public presentation on Tuesday as the first of three finalists for Northern Michigan University's open athletic director position, University of Alaska Fairbanks Athletic Director Forrest Karr spoke highly of the Nanooks' rifle team, which won three straight NCAA titles from 2006-07.
He glowed when telling the story of NCAA championship Nordic skier Marius Korthauer, who won the title not only in his last collegiate race, but on his birthday none the less.
Karr's passion really came through, however, when it came time not to boast about the Nanooks' champions, but when it came time to brag about their accomplishments in the community.
For Karr, community service is what makes college athletics fun.
"I think community service is a No. 1 priority for an athletic department," Karr said. "This is what makes it fun. When people think of being an AD, this is what they think of, the events, the kids being successful and the kids out volunteering in the community."
Karr is a native of DeForest, Wis., a graduate of Waunakee High School just outside of Madison, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School, but a peek at his resume may say otherwise, because the Alaska Nanooks AD has really made the interior of Alaska his home.
Karr has immersed himself in the community with a number of service organizations, community groups and events.
Karr has been a regular donor to the Blood Bank of Alaska. He's a member of the Rotary Club and National Ski Patrol, as well as an active participant in the United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity. He's even made time for the Kiwanis and Optimists clubs in Fairbanks.
He's served as a team leader for the Fairbanks Heart Walk and was a guest waiter at the Tips for Kids fundraising event, put on by the Fairbanks Resource Center for Parents and Children.
And that passion has carried over to his student athletes, who have been involved in Habitat for Humanity, the United Way, Fairbanks Heart Walk and the Big Brothers Big Sisters Day of Caring.
One of the most recent community events put on by the Nanooks was Mush for Kids, which featured 47 Alaska student athletes helping kids learn how to be mushers.
Karr said none of the student athletes had ever been involved in mushing before, but it was still a fun day for them and the kids who came out.
Events like Mush for Kids are not only a great way to get the student athletes out in the community, but to get the community engaged in Nanook athletics.
Oh, and they are fun events too for Karr.
"Over the years, I've come to appreciate the long-term importance of athletics and recreational sports not only in providing an excellent opportunity for students to pursue their goals, but to create an important bond between the university and the community and contributing to the overall domain of student life," Karr said.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.