Some very talented young archers from Stettler will be heading off to Nashville in July as part of the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) Canadian International Team.
Three from the local archery team at William E. Hay Secondary Campus – Deacon Barclay (Grade 7), Katlyne Glasier (Grade 9) and Taylor Knudtson (Grade 11), ended up in the top 24 of NASP Canadian archers recently in Regina.
Two of the students, Knudtson and Barclay, will be competing in the NASP Worlds Tournament as well as the All Star Tournament which runs July 25th to 27th, said coach Tanja Bessette-Heatherington.
“We attend four tournaments throughout the province in our competitive season,” explained Bessette-Heatherington, who is also an educational assistant at the school. She coaches two local teams in total, which number about 50 participants. “It appeals to a really large range of students,” she said.
As for the NASP program, Bessette-Heatherington said that it was first launched back in the early 2000s in Kentucky.
“They were finding that a lot of kids weren’t doing the hunter/outdoor education sports any more,” she explained. “And it just blew up – it’s now in 14 different countries. We all use exactly the same equipment all the way through as well.”
The program has been up and running in Canada for about 10 years now. “We have schools all over Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and B.C. involved with it for sure,” she said.
“I love the kids, and I always get such an eclectic group,” noted Bessette-Heatherington of one of the aspects of coaching she loves the most.
As for the sport of archery itself, it’s far more complex and even demanding than what most people might realize. And, according to worldarchery.org, it’s one of the oldest arts still practiced.
“The earliest evidence of archery dates to the late Paleolithic period, around 10,000 BC, when the Egyptian and neighbouring Nubian cultures used bows and arrows archery for the purposes of hunting and warfare.
“In China, archery dates back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1027 BC).”
As Bessette-Heatherington pointed out as well, there is a uniqueness about how the sport demands much from you physically as well as mentally. Archers have to be able to focus, and to tune out any kind of surrounding distraction.
“I don’t care if you are tall, short, skinny, large, quick, slow, athletic or non-athletic, it’s athleticism in a whole different (way). You have to focus, and you have to know your body,” she explained. “I also tell them, if you take nothing else out of here, you will teach yourself to focus and you will learn how to become calm. You will learn to reign yourself into a state where you can accomplish what you want to accomplish.”
As for the students, they couldn’t be more pleased about their standings.
“I was really excited, just really happy that I was picked,” said Glasier, adding she’s disappointed she won’t be able to make the trip to Nashville. But landing where she did in the standings certainly is something to be proud of.
“I’ve been doing this for three years, and I love the mental games of it – it’s so fun.”
Barclay, who was also surprised to learn of his placement in the standings, said he likes way archery provides you with room to really concentrate while you work on your skills. “It’s a nice, calm sport,” he said.
Knudtson agreed that he enjoys how archery is, in key ways, a sport that really taps into the mind and an ability to focus and concentrate. “You don’t rely on anybody else.” As for Nashville, he said it will be a great opportunity. “Probably once in a lifetime. I’m pretty excited for it.”
Meanwhile, the students have been working to raise funds to help with the Nashville trip expenses.
Currently, Yaya’s Treats and Eats has been donating one dollar from every large screamer sold towards their trip, and through the month of June, Buzzed & Baked has been donating one dollar from each sugar cookie sold to Barclay and Knudtson as well.