Updated Tue, Jul 1, 2014 10:02 am
The archery team from Athens City Schools will be making its fourth trip to the archery world tournament later this month.
The program, which began 11 years ago, will take a total of 24 archers at two levels to the tournament after qualifying at the national tournament. Athens City Schools will be represented at both the middle school and high school level.
The Athens team has previously competed in the world tournament in Orlando, Florida and St. Louis, Missouri.
“These have been fabulous travel opportunities for teams,” said coach Anne L’Heureux via email. “We have shot archery in the St. Louis Rams’ dome with 10,000 other shooters. We have traveled to other states and competed with the best in the country, and have come away with a national champion and a third-place national team.”
The team missed out on qualifying for the national tournament in its first two years of competition, but after increasing practice time and bringing in more coaches, the team qualified for nationals in its third year. The team now has several coaches who volunteer their time to help with practices, fundraisers and tournaments.
The program, which began with only a middle school team, now includes 70-80 archers at the middle school and high school levels.
Members of the world team include three archers that placed at the state tournament, a national champion, a fourth grader who placed at nationals, and members of the national IBO 3D team who placed third at nationals.
Archery is not considered a school sport and is not recognized by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Due to that factor and the increased participation, the program has started fundraising to cover the cost of some of the competitions. The school does provide the team with a place to practice and some bus transportation. The world tournament trip is a “self-funded” event, according to L’Heureux.
Ohio has become one of the more competitive states at the national tournament said the veteran coach. “In order to keep improving and stay competitive with other states many of the schools got together to start the Appalachian Archery Conference (AAC),” said L’Heureux.
Teams competing as part of the AAC include Athens, Eastern, Fairfield Christian Academy, Logan, Maysville, Meigs, Nelsonville-York, Philo, Ripley, W.Va. and Shady Springs, W.Va.
“If you looked these schools up you will find that not only are they the top schools in Ohio and West Virginia, they are top in the nation and will also be sending teams to the world tournament,” she said.
The National Archery in the Schools Program is not only a competitive team, but part of the physical education curriculum at the school involved.
“The benefits are numerous for both the kids and adults. We get to see our own children learn and compete. We get to watch kids go through our program from third grade to college. We see the satisfaction of kids learning a skill and taking it to a competitive level. We are there when they succeed and there when they crash,” said L’Heureux.
“We teach archery which in itself teaches life lessons, some days are good some are bad, but there will always another one so take them one at a time and try your best,” she said.
The Athens Archery team will shoot at 1 p.m. on July 12 in Madison, Wisconsin.