Archery team misses prom to compete at nationals

Some Montevallo High School students will trade traditional prom gear like tiaras and boutonnieres for targets, bows and arrows next weekend.

The school’s archery team will compete May 8-9 in the National Archery Tournament in Louisville, Ky. The school was invited to play in the tournament after finishing third at state back in February.

Students are looking forward to the trip, even though some juniors and seniors will miss prom.

“Even though I’m missing my prom, the nationals will be a good experience,” said senior Maria Wagner, 17. “Everybody’s talking about the trip.”

Wagner finished second in the state for girls, helping her team reach its bronze medal. Her younger brother, James, also plays on the team.

“I was happy with the team’s finish,” said Wagner. “I’m glad we were able to put our name out there like that.”

The newly formed team needs some publicity — it’s only been around since November.

“We didn’t expect this to happen,” said Phil Carter, the team’s coach and maintenance technician at MHS. “We’ve just got a great group of kids. They wanted to do it. They wanted to win.”

Carter, who has shot professionally most of his life, decided to start the team after judging tournaments in other schools.

“When we got going, 90 percent of our kids had never picked up a bow,” said Carter. “They have really come a long way.”

Students say they joined the team because it was something different.

“The rumor spread there was going to be an archery team, and I was like, ‘That’s really cool,’” Wagner said.

As cool as it may be, learning the skill proved to be hard work too.

“This is the first time I’ve been around this stuff,” said senior Gannon O’Grady, 18. “You have to work to get the proper technique down. I’ve enjoyed learning and have become pretty good.”

Archery gives students better hand-eye coordination and improves concentration and focus, Carter said.

Both boys and girls play on the team. Competition rules dictate that all teams cannot exceed 24 members and must have at least four female players.

All competitors also shoot the same make and model of bow and arrow.

Carter said kids of all backgrounds love the sport because, unlike football or basketball, nobody has physical advantage.

“You don’t have to be a quote ‘athlete.’ It’s a skill you can learn,” said Carter. “I think its popularity is going to spread across the county.”

The school is asking for donations to help pay for the trip to the Louisville Fairgrounds. Right now, 17 or the team’s 21 members plan on attending the tournament, where students from fourth-grade to seniors will compete.

“This will be the largest indoor archery event in the world,” said Carter.