Cedar Grove archers shoot way to World

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CEDAR GROVE--Over a dozen Cedar Grove Elementary School archers qualified for their first National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) World Tournament in July at the Alliance Energy Conference Center in Madison, WI.

“This year was our first time to have the whole team qualify for state, nationals, and world,” said teacher and Head Coach Travis Whitworth. “This is the first year our team shot a score over 3,100 as well.”

Students were on target during the competition scoring 3,000 and placing 13th out of 30 teams.

“I am very happy with our score and quite proud of the team. This is quite an accomplishment!” he said.

Qualification for the world tournament is based on team scores. Archers Savannah Thompson, Briana Cunningham, Eli Howard, Kacee Blair, Dylan Peck, Madison Martin, Levi Dalton, Sarah McCarthy, Trey Dawson, Conner Mills, Kayle Richards, Ian Rock, Ernest Walls, Cody Peck, Logan Peck, Jaylin Bross and John Stillwell shot a high enough score to register on the second day of registration.

School Principal Andy Moberly expressed appreciation to those responsible for increasing the skill level of the archers to the next level.

“I would just like to say how proud I am of Mr. Whitworth, Mr. Thompson and all the students on the archery team,” Moberly said. “I was able to attend a couple of events this year and our Archery Team represented Cedar Grove Elementary and the community very well. It is also exciting to see the hard work our coaches and students have put in to improve and achieve the opportunity to participate at the state, national and world levels.”

The team recently wrapped up its fifth season. Teachers Stacy Koch and Whitworth started the program together. This past year, parent Maynard Thompson has been the assistant coach and program fundraiser.

“All of the parents have been supportive but the most notable is my assistant coach,” Whitworth said. “Maynard volunteered to help me coach. His daughter shot last year as a third grader and again this year. He has also spearheaded our fundraisers to help us get new targets and help reduce the cost of going to World for the team.”

Recruiting students to the team is relatively easy, especially when they first handle a bow and arrow.

“After Jimmy Westwood had a three week unit on archery in PE for 3rd-5th grades, I allowed any 4th-5th grader to try out,” Whitworth explained adding Westwood sends a list of third graders who showed strong competitive potential.

“I send those third graders a special invitation to try out. The team accepts 24 archers which is the maximum team size,” Whitworth said. “Archers are chosen based on skill, attendance, being receptive to coaching of proper techniques, and how serious they are at practice. Tryouts usually last about three to four weeks. My assistant coach and I then make the final decision on who makes the team.”

When asked to name his top archer, Whitworth provided this poetic response.

“I can't really say who my best archer is because they all shoot well and their scores go up and down a little so that the best one day, may not be the best another. I have some archers whose scores don’t indicate their one of my ‘best’ shooters, but their effort and willingness to be coached certainly would,” he said.

The popularity of archery has been propelled by such media as The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen (played by Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence) and even AMC’s The Walking Dead where fan favorite Daryl Dixon wields a wicked crossbow.

“Archery is a sport anyone can participate in,” Whitworth said. “While some may never be a pro archer, everyone who chooses to participate can be successful. I do not care what score my archers shoot, as long as they step on the line and genuinely do their best. If they do that every time...the higher scores will follow.

“Like all sports, you are competing against others, but I try to teach my archers that the only person I want them competing against is themselves,” the coach continued. “Strive to improve! This can only be done with practice. Don’t get mad when you aren’t shooting well. Focus and think about what you are doing differently that is throwing your shots off and try your best to fix it.”

Archery builds much more than sharper shooting skills to students.

“For many it brings self-confidence,” Whitworth said. “Many of the archers start out with little skill and knowledge of archery, but as they practice and improve they become more and more confident in themselves.”

This carries over into the classroom as well.

“I demand good grades to participate in the program and I adhere to this policy,” Whitworth noted as a teacher. “My archers love being on the team and they make sure their academics are properly taken care of. While I have some archers whom are athletic and participate in traditional sports, I have many that are not so athletic (just like me!) and archery is a great alternative to traditional sports.”

Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,200 students in grades preschool through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 900 and a classified staff of over 800 working to make the district the leader in educational excellence.