In just five years, I’ve accomplished things not many people get to have in their archery careers.
But without all of the support of my family, Strictly Archery (located in Shorewood, IL), Coach Linda Beck, and my sponsors Shrewd Archery and Archery Squad, I accomplished great things. Plus I practiced. A lot. But why should I start in 2017? I have to take you all the way back to 2012.
On August 26, 2012, my family and I had gone to Bass Pro Shop. We had gone over to the hunting area of the store, and somehow, I convinced my mom to buy me a $25 Little Bear Recurve. Now, my mother didn’t think this was going to go very far at the time, because I NEVER had an interest in sports before, nor was I good at them. But I had a special light in my eyes than I never had before, so we bought that simple bow. I would set up the empty milk carton and in rain or shine, if my parents were there, I would go outside and shoot.
Later on, my parents finally decided to take me to a local range. Unfortunately, the range wasn’t very nice. The owner had yelled at me, because I kept hitting the low hanging posters, and he even made me even cry. I didn’t want to give up just yet. That’s when we found Strictly Archery and the amazing people who worked there; Scott, Donna, Kevin, Tyler, Brandon and Greg. They were so kind and I could tell that one silly little moment was not going to ruin this sport for me. I remember coming in for my first lesson, and Greg looked down at the glove and arm guard I had, and he told me I was not allowed to use that unless I shot a recurve bow. I was then having my first big hurdle. Before coming to Strictly, I had been shooting with my right hand, and now, I had been told I was a lefty.
Fast forward to last year. I like to call this my ‘breakthrough’ year.
Somehow, all of my form and equipment snapped into place. I got 3rd in the 2016 JOAD Indoor Nationals, which in my head, was mind blowing, but then that summer, I placed with two silvers and wound up as Grand National Champion. Pin wise, I had completed all my outdoor pins, from green to Olympian gold. That year too, I had reached the golden age of twelve, where I could try out for my dream goal. The Compound Junior Dream Team. I expected maybe a ‘Try again next year!’ letter to come in but on my uncle’s birthday, (perfect timing really.) my mom got the email saying I made it. I normally don’t cry happy tears, but this was one of those moments. It was insane that not only was I progressing farther than I thought I would in only 4 ½ years, but I was somehow managing to keep almost all A’s in school.
JDT camp soon came along and with many hours for a whole week in Chula Vista, California, I made first alternate on the team, and only a month later, I made the actual team! Now I work with both my coaches, Linda Beck and Greg Semaan, and even though in my four and a half years of shooting, I did have problems, I realized that no one is perfect, of course. I’ve plateaued, gotten frustrated, had rumors spread about me and had some other problems along the way; my friendships I have made have gotten me through them. Archery is something that connects me to other people. I’ve made new friends along the way, and even though I’ve struggled and gotten down, archery is always there for me to come back to.