Posted at: 04/16/2013 4:43 PM
Updated at: 04/18/2013 12:36 AM
By: Laura Kennedy
Archery is a growing sport in the Northland. The Grand Rapids Thunderhawks aren't just gaining more archers, they're finding more success.
At the state tournament last month, all three Grand Rapids teams and four individuals qualified for nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. That success is hard earned. Head coach Mike Sundberg says these archers are committed to the sport.
"It's not only time, but it's a mental aspect of it," Sundberg said. "Golf and archery are about the same. It's a form sport. So you gotta get the form down and you have to be dedicated to doing it."
Kayla Witherill and Ava Ryan are two of the youngest archers going to nationals. Their mental focus is a big part of what got them this far.
"I think it takes a lot of confidence," Witherill said. "If you're always thinking bad thoughts and that you won't do good, then you probably won't do good."
"Its all in your head," Ryan said. "You have to really think about it and it's all mental. I just tell myself that I can do it and I have to really focus."
As a seventh grader, Hanna LaBois won two titles at state. Now 14 years old, she is a four-time state champ.
"She's a very outstanding archer and if you watch her it's all about her form, the mental part of the preparation," Sundberg said.
But under the pressure of a national tournament, everyone battles some jitters.
"You're just nervous," LaBois said. "How my score is going to be, how I'm gonna place and what my standing is gonna be."
Each archer will shoot 30 arrows. Fifteen at a ten meter target, the rest at 15 meters. A perfect score is 300 points. Some Thunderhawks have their sights set on a top finish.
"I hope I get first, or at least place," LaBois said.
"There are several hundred schools down there and the top ten is very achievable for this group of archers," Sundberg said.
Others are just excited to take aim.
"I have a goal to do my best. I'm not so much about getting a place," Witherill said.
"I just love to get on the line and just shoot," Ryan said. "I think it's really fun."