ARCHERY

Two local teenagers shine on national level


Published: Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.

Over the course of about a year training at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex, 13-year-old Hala Skelton progressed from mastering the basics of archery to medaling in a national competition.

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Meghan Collins, left, and Hala Skelton both recently won national titles for archery. (Submitted photo by Amy Skelton)

At the Easton Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Nationals competition in July, Skelton won gold for her overall performance.

“It's pretty amazing, I mean, knowing that my hard work finally paid off,” she said. “It was incredible.”

The Newberry center has provided not only a training site but also a support network for her. Everyone, from coaches to other young archers, are always helpful when she has questions about technique.

Archery is a sport anyone can enjoy, young or old, according to Skelton. The hardest part is keeping your focus.

“It's not exactly a physical sport,” she said. “It's more of a mental sport.”

She was one of several young athletes who train at the Newberry-based archery complex that medaled in the national JOAD competition, which was held in Hamilton, Ohio.

Meghan Collins, who is also a 13-year-old High Springs resident like Skelton, won gold for her overall performance as well.

Her father, Pete Collins, said she got involved in archery about a year-and-a-half ago through an afterschool club and has been training at the Newberry complex for most of that time.

Meghan has shot thousands of arrows by this point, and she has her sights set even higher than nationals, he said. She has Olympic aspirations and the work ethic to match. “If it's an A, she's not happy. It's got to be an A-plus,” he said. “But she's like that with just about everything. If it's important, she's going to be passionate about it.”

Robert Turner, the head archery coach at the Easton complex in Newberry, said youths who train there brought home more medals from the national JOAD competition this year than ever before.

Archery is a welcoming sport where age and body type don't matter. “It teaches a lot of great skills around motivation,” he said. “It's a lot of internal struggle.”

Archery has become a shared passion for Joey Todd and his family. Todd is a full-time coach at the Newberry center, and his children Trinity, 11, and Wyatt, 10, as well as his niece Hannah Strope, 13, train there.

All three medaled at Nationals last month, with Trinity earning a silver medal for her overall performance and Wyatt and Hannah making top 10 finishes in their respective divisions, as well as bringing home medals for specific competitions, he said.

He has watched his children grow and make friends as they train at the Newberry center, and has seen many other kids who were bullied in school or didn't do well in team sports blossom after discovering archery.

“This is the real deal, and we're doing this all the time, every week, you know, practicing daily to get better and better and better,” he said. “To be the best in the world.”

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gainesville.com.

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