Archery team wins world championship
This article originally appeared on DelmarvaNow.
The Holly Grove Christian School will be undergoing some construction when its doors open in the next few weeks.
But it won’t be a new classroom or new lockers that are added to the halls — instead it will be a brand-new trophy case for the Eagles archery team, which will enter the 2017-18 school year as world champions.
After missing out on the 2017 Indoor 3D World Championship in Florida due to a lack of funds, Holly Grove’s archery team made the trip to Pennsylvania to try their luck in the 3D outdoor section of the championship.
Following several first-place victories in regular season tournaments, the Eagles swept the competition at the state level and ultimately advanced to the national stage. Holly Grove finished as one of the top 100 teams in the nation, but still had its sights set on a larger prize — the worlds.
“What amazes me more than anything is when we got there to shoot, the kids weren’t nervous at all — I think I was more nervous than anyone,” head coach Bruce Bowden said. “We’ve done so many competitions, that when I told them we were going to worlds they were very calm — it was all smiles.”
Divided into elementary, middle and high school, it was the Eagles’ elementary squad that represented the Shore in the World Championship.
Going toe-to-toe with some of the best young archers in the world, the Eagles maintained a sense of calmness and refused to let the pressure of performing on archery’s biggest stage get in their heads.
“The pressure, you don’t really have any pressure because you know you’re going to do good,” Samantha Porter said. “It really doesn’t matter if you do good or not, as long as you did the best you could do.”
One after the other, Holly Grove archers ranging from 8 to 11 years old made their way to the platform hoping for a clean shot.
Before they would shoot, Bowden would ask his team how they felt, in which they would always yell “Confident!”
“It was very exciting, and it took a lot, I mean a lot of practice,” Graysen Wright said with a laugh.
As the competition played out, it was clear early on that Holly Grove was creating a gap that no other team would be able to catch. After shooting a 1,505 — 190 more than the second-place squad — Bowden and his team heard the words they had dreamed of hearing.
The Holly Grove archers were world champions.
“It feels amazing. A lot of people can’t say that they’re world champions, and it feels so good that our school can become world champions,” Colby Wallace said. “I could never imagine that we’d become that.”
The team collected their first-place medals and quickly headed back to their hotel, where Porter was already getting the word out to her friends and family.
“I plopped down on my bed and texted everybody that I knew because they were wondering how we were doing,” Porter said. “I got a lot of ‘Wows’ and ‘Great jobs,’ and it felt really great.”
After the excitement finally died down, the team made its way to the hotel pool, swimming and laughing while reliving their victory.
But before anything, Bowden and the rest of the archers made sure to do something not many high school teams still participate in following a competition.
“The first thing we did as a family was go to God in prayer and praised him, and we thanked him for what he did for us once again,” Bowden said. “He’s given us an amazing journey this year, and we give him all the credit for it.”
Bowden has used prayer and scriptures as one of the team’s primary tools to establish confidence and focus. The idea that God will love the archers regardless if they win or lose had helped Wallace and others shoot their bows without necessarily worrying about the outcome.
“One scripture was, ‘With man it is impossible, with God, all things are possible,’ and it feels like even if we think we can’t do it, we really can do it,” Wallace said. “Our coaches pump us up, and our teammates don’t ever put us down, and they give us a lot of support.”
Although the season is officially over for Holly Grove, the team won’t have too much time to rest before preparing to defend their title.
The archers will be back in action come November, but even after a world championship, they want to add to their new trophy case.
"I think we can do it again next year," Wright said.
Bowden would like his team to become a three-star champion, a recognition of the squad that has the largest combined score for the nationals and indoor and outdoor worlds.
But before they start focusing on next season, the team is busy celebrating the victory.
“It’s still like a dream, like it’s not real yet, but it’s an amazing feeling,” Bowden said. “This is something we will always remember.”