ALDERSON, WV- The town that throws the best fourth of July celebration in the area is now also home to the area’s best young bow and arrow shooters.
This Friday, June 9, archery students from Alderson Elementary School will head to Myrtle Beach, SC for the NASP Open Championship.
The school’s archery program began about a year-and-a-half ago when coach and Alderson PE instructor, Jason Ward, started it up, and the success and competitiveness has been nothing but positive ever since. In three local tournaments, the team has finished second, first and second, respectively. They placed seventh in the Elementary division at the state tournaments in Charleston back in March. Not to be outdone, at nationals on May 13, Alderson placed 40th out of 190 Elementary schools in Louisville, KY.
The students get a good amount of practice at club time during the school day, and they get extra practice after school in preparation for tournaments.
Fortunately, there are many people to thank for these students having such an amazing opportunity. The school, parents, the whole community, and the Board of Education provide full support to make sure the team has everything they need to participate and to be successful. The program is mainly funded by the support from the community through raffles and car washes, and other fundraising methods.
Matt Tabor, Andrea Edge, Alicia Utterback and Greg Eary are the other coaches for the program.
Ward thought back to the beginning of the program and how it was able to hit the ground running.
“When our program first started, we were in the school gym,” Ward began to explain.
“We had to relocate our gym classes and our archery program to the gym in what was formally known as the Alderson Community Center. The gym was smaller, so we had to make some changes. Once construction began on turning the Alderson Community Center into the future Alderson Elementary School we had to relocate once again. The problem was, we didn’t know where we were going to go because there wasn’t really anywhere for us to go. Ideas were tossed around for a couple of months when one of our custodians, Buddy, came up with a solution. He figured out a way we could hang the archery net in the cafeteria and use the lunch tables as the side walls to create our archery range. The Alderson Archers have adapted to every change we had to make with the location of our archery range,” Ward finished.
“They have persevered, and they constantly remember it is them and the target. One arrow at a time. Don’t focus on your surroundings,” Edge added.
Some of the students also commented on their experience in the program and how fun it is to be a part of something as special as this has become for Alderson.
“I have a lot of fun and it pushes me to work hard,” said Bella Baldwin, a fifth grader in her second year in the program.
Eli White, also a fifth grader and the boy captain going to open nationals, said, “It is fun. You get to be around your friends, and we have good coaches. Shooting and getting a 10 is a great feeling. I’ve enjoyed traveling to a lot of places I have never been before.”
Ellie Boettner, a fifth-grader, wanted to quit the team after the first tournament earlier this year, but coach Tabor encouraged her to give it one more try just to be sure. Now, Boettner’s score is 140 points higher than it was in that first tourney, she has her own bow, and she now asks to shoot as much as she can.
“The coaches push me to do my best and not to get mad and keep going even when I don’t want to,” Boettner said.
Coach Tabor and coach Ward could not be more thankful and proud of what they are getting to do every day as well.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience for the kids, the coaches, and the team as a whole and I’m thankful to be part of it,” Tabor said.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had coaching and it is a true joy to see the students improve and do big things,” echoed Ward.
Coach Utterback not only sees the team improving each day, but also notices the school side of things are on the upswing as well.
“I like that this program has helped tremendously with attendance, behavior, and grades. I enjoy working with the students on this team and the coaches. I’m thankful to be a part of this special group,” Utterback exclaimed.
Stay tuned for tournament results from Myrtle Beach over the next week or so.
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