Mushing in the Family

Summer is a great season to spend time with family. Through working or playing together, skills and interests are definitely passed on to children.  We see a variety of second-generation careers:  movie stars, business people, mechanics, farmers, and in my case, teachers.

Apparently, mushing falls into the generational gene pool. In Fairbanks’ Daily News-Miner, Dan Seavey,  patriarch of the Seavey clan was quoted,

“I often wonder what life would’ve been like for a lot of people had I taken up stamp collecting or something like that, as a hobby, instead of sled dogs.”  [Daily News-Miner, 3/17/15]

He may have had a family full of stamp collectors if that had been the case. Instead, he has a family who loves sled dogs and racing! Dan raced in the Iditarod in the 1973 race, the first year, and then four times after that. His son, Mitch, is the 2017 Iditarod champion. Grandsons Danny, Tyrell, and Dallas have all finished in Nome.  Dallas is a four-time champion.

“I do know this: It’s extremely important to start at a young age,” said Dan, the retired teacher. “It’s important what image you project to your kids and other people’s kids. That sticks with you, positive or negative.” [Daily News-Miner, 3/17/15]

The family members of Joe Redington, Sr., founder of the Iditarod race, have definitely followed in his footsteps. Joe, Sr., at 80 years of age, raced son Raymie in Joe’s final Iditarod. In 2017, three grandsons competed: Ray, Jr., Ryan, and Robert. Back when he won the Junior Iditarod as a teen in 1999, Ryan commented on the influence his family had on him:

“My initial interest in running dogs is that is a family heritage and I love it…”

“My main mentor is my Dad. He is a very good coach. I love training and watching him every chance I get because I learn more and more from him.” [ Ryan Redington interview]

The Redington family at the ribbon cutting ceremony along with artist Patrick Garley. A bronze sculpture of Joe Redington, Sr., with his dog team was dedicated at Joe Redington Jr./ Sr. High School in June, 2017.

The Redingtons, Ryan, Robert, Raymie, Barb, and Ray, Jr., are a family of Iditarod competitors.

The Mackey family has multiple racers, beginning with champion Dick Mackey, who competed in the early days of the Iditarod. Sons Rick, Bill, Lance, and Jason have all competed. Lance is a four–time champion.  Jason alluded to family influence on a child’s interests:

“I grew up with sled dogs. It’s what I know and what I love!”


Beyond parent/child influence, other family encouragement exists on the Iditarod Trail. The Berington twins, Anna and Kristy, support each other during the race by staying together on the trail. Kristy began racing in 2010, and Anna joined the contest in 2012.

The Berington sisters

After training with his uncle, Ed Stielstra, Justin Stielstra raced as a rookie in 2017. Heidi with Justin and Ed at vet checks, March 2017

Passing on the love of sled dogs is definitely a family thing!  We can use this information to help our students identify ways their interests and goals are influenced by family members.

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