By Matthew Young RealWV
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Alderson Elementary School Archers arrived at the Charleston Coliseum Saturday morning in pursuit of immortality. And like a group of seasoned troubadours, these high-pressure competitors showed up ready to croon their ballad of accuracy for a chance at the West Virginia State Championship.
“We are so excited, this is just our second year,” Coach Jason Ward told RealWV Saturday morning. “The kids have worked really hard and we’re blessed to have this opportunity. We hope to do our best today.”
As far as Jason is concerned, their best is exactly what his team gives everyday.
“We feel well,” Jason added. “We just had our best week of practice, and we think we’re going to turn some heads.”
His Archers agree. While their excitement was palpable, it was overshadowed only by their sense of teamwork. In fact, when we asked young Addison who she thought would shoot the best today, she told us, “The whole team.”
Young Elijah was brimming with confidence.
“I feel like I’m going to win,” he told us. However, Much like Addison, Elijah also predicts success for his whole team, saying, “I feel like our team is going to do great – we’re going to take home the first place trophy.”
Chloe thinks the Alderson Archers will do “amazing,” while Tyler is excited for his team’s chances of winning. Georgia believes that both her team and herself will do “very well.” Kayden believes his friend, Luke, will be the team’s MVP. Luke was equally excited about Kayden’s performance, believing both he and the team will do “totally awesome.”
Gannon, a young man after my own heart, is most excited about his team’s celebratory trip to McDonalds once competition has concluded.
Kayden’s father, who was on hand to support his son and the team, told us, “I’m excited that Kayden’s found something that he keeps up with, and he enjoys doing. I support him and the team fully.”
Before competition began, RealWV had the opportunity to speak with Chris Scraggs, program coordinator for the WVDNR Archery in Schools Program, who told us, “I love everything this program stands for.”
“Archery is not a traditional sport,” Scraggs said. “Most kids wouldn’t even think about this. One of my favorite things is that you can be any level – any skill level or any athletic ability – and still shoot a bow because it’s all about accuracy and training. It’s you against yourself, every time. Even when you’re on a team, it’s you against yourself.”
A proud native of Sissonville, W.Va., Scraggs is in his second year as director of the DNR’s Archery in Schools Program.
“The program will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary next year,” Scraggs said. “When somebody learns about it for the first time, it’s usually through their kids. This is for fourth through twelfth graders – elementary, middle and high school divisions. It’s always just fantastic.”
“This year, we had 96 schools enter into our virtual qualifier just for a chance to be at states,” Scraggs added. “Out of those 96, 69 schools actually made it. It was a very tough competition this year.”
Competition brackets are broken down by both teams and individuals. Schools or parents interested in finding out more information about the WVDNR’s Archery in Schools Program should visit the WVDNR’s website.
The DNR will announce the winners of all of today’s competitions on Monday, March 27. RealWV will provide an update as soon as the DNR makes that information available.
But regardless of the day’s final outcome, the Alderson Archers have already won – and they will have the well-earned memory of a celebration at McDonalds to show for it.
All photos by Matthew Young, RealWV.