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New team sport opens for Creston youth

Creston Archery team member Hayden Ray sights down her arrow in preparation to fire a shot during practice Tuesday at the Early Childhood Center small gymnasium. Ray is one of 68 members of the Creston Archery team. The team will host Diagonal from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Creston Community Elementary/Middle School, and after a brief awards ceremony, people interested in trying the equipment are welcome to take part in the Family Fun Shoot, which takes place starting at 2 p.m.
Creston Archery team member Hayden Ray sights down her arrow in preparation to fire a shot during practice Tuesday at the Early Childhood Center small gymnasium. Ray is one of 68 members of the Creston Archery team. The team will host Diagonal from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Creston Community Elementary/Middle School, and after a brief awards ceremony, people interested in trying the equipment are welcome to take part in the Family Fun Shoot, which takes place starting at 2 p.m.

Archery has moved out of the realm of physical education and become the newest team sport available to Creston youth.

The Creston Archery team was established last year through cooperation with the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) and is open to any student in fourth through 12th grade. It started with 16 members and has since blossomed to a team of 68.

“For the National Archery in Schools Program, the PE teachers must teach it as a part of the curriculum in the schools,” Melissa Heatherington, one of five Creston Archery coaches, said. “If they teach it in each of those grades – four through 12 – it can qualify you to open up an after school archery club or team. So, while [NASP is] through the school and we decided to do it because the school decided to teach the curriculum, it is separate from the school.”

The NASP curriculum includes units such as the history of archery, archery safety, character development and mathematics associated with archery. NASP’s curriculum is also designed to teach students with a variety of disabilities and Heatherington said she has been to tournaments in which there were children with disabilities competing.

“Last year, Coach [Craig] Taylor, Richard Siglin and Eric Ehlen put together a pamphlet that said, ‘If you’re interested in coming to this after school, come,’ and they had around 100 kids show up,” Heatherington said.

As an entity separate from Creston Community Schools, the team is responsible for acquiring its own funding, and, with the help of several organizations in the community, were able to purchase equipment and set up a seed fund for future needs.

“The High Lakes Outdoor Alliance gave us the money to buy our own set of equipment. They gave us $3,500 and bought the entire set of 12 bows and targets and an arrow curtain,” said Heatherington. “And then, YACC (Youth Answering the Call of the Community) had a tournament and they donated money to us as well, and CWC, Inc. also just gave us $7,000 to add to our program.”

Additional funding for the purchase of more equipment and the software needed to run tournaments was donated by groups such as Kiwanis and Whitetails Unlimited.

There is a team of five coaches, Jesse Carter, Heatherington, Robin Campbell, Brian Campbell and Toby Williamson, and two assistant coaches, Jan Lesan and Ryan Heatherington, guiding the team in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional archery competition.

While encouraging future bow hunters and teaching the discipline of archery, the sport also teaches things such as focus, self-control, patience and discipline.

“It also does so many things that another sport does not,” said Heatherington. “It’s not an aggressive sport, so kids that aren’t drawn to the football field might be drawn into this. Handicapped archers – we’ve been to tournaments where there were several handicapped children who were able to participate in this sport. It gives a lot of kids that aren’t into other sports, but are drawn to this sort of individual competition and mindset, an opportunity to be part of a team and that feeling of being part of a team.”

Heatherington is confident the program will continue to be a success for years to come, and while it is too late to join the team this year, she encourages other youths and their parents to attend the dual against Diagonal from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Creston Community Elementary/Middle School so they can experience what a tournament looks like, and then take an opportunity to shoot a bow during the Family Fun Shoot from 2 to 5 p.m. also on Saturday at the EMS building.

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