Madi Rhinevault March – Most sports involve lots of movement from one side of the court/field to the other and lots of commotion and yelling in the bleachers. I personally enjoy standing in the student section with my classmates in support of our basketball team. We scream and chant and clap in an endless cycle with “spirit fingers” in the air hoping that our team makes the foul shot. Basketball has always been one of my favorite sports and I started playing at a young age. I remember the adrenaline rush and overwhelming moments when the crowd erupted in cheers of joy. But I also remember the struggle.
I was born with a condition called Microtia Atresia, which is a deformity affecting one’s ear. This means that I am half deaf and I have a really tiny ear. It was never a huge problem until I became involved in sports. I started playing basketball in kindergarten as a five-year-old. Basketball is a sport that requires good focus and attention to detail. But it’s hard to focus when you can’t differentiate where the sound is coming from. I became very confused in the loud gyms during games because the noise of the crowd clashed with the coach’s voice along with my teammates who were trying to call out plays or pass the ball. I am a competitive person and I always have been, and the mistakes I made on the court sometimes cost the team necessary points, leading me to go home angry with myself.
You lose interest when you’re not having fun and I was constantly angered over my confusion on the court.
But I kept playing, from kindergarten until fifth grade. My school’s archery program isn’t offered until fourth grade and so when the time came I signed up. As a little kid, I had no clue what to expect. Every other sport I had participated in was very physical and confusing because of the constant sounds. Basketball, soccer, and even kickball at recess or tag during gym were causing my struggle. But archery was different because there was a lack of sound and I didn’t need to be able to hear my coach or teammates. It was through archery that my struggle to find “my sport” was finally over. Instead of a sport that demanded attention to noise, all I had to do was block it out and focus. This is one of the reasons that I love archery.
Archery is a sport that requires focus which helps people to develop a good mindset. If you let one arrow bother you, every arrow after will be just as bad and worse. Archery forces you to maintain a good attitude which inversely makes you stronger in the face of mental struggles and improves who you are as a person as well as allowing you to overcome issues with other sports.
Archery is a sport that anyone can participate in, and it is often the source of lasting memories and strong friendships. I was able to overcome my issues with sports by becoming an archer and in doing so, overcome my disability. But it’s not just me. A few years ago, there was a girl on our high school archery team that had broken her leg. She was involved in several other sports, all of which involved running. All of which, she couldn’t play.
She was absolutely crushed until she realized that she would still be able to shoot archery. Archery is simple, you walk to the line, shoot, then walk to the target and back repeatedly, and that was something that she was capable of doing. Archery is such an important sport because it provides people with amazing opportunities. The girl that had broken her leg was in the midst of her senior year which she thought was completely ruined. But, archery was able to help her overcome her temporary disability because it made her realize that she was still capable of team activities and having fun with one of the sports she loved.
Both permanent and temporary disabilities can be overcome through archery. I have seen archers of all ages participate in archery regardless of their disabilities. Those that are dealing with temporary disabilities, especially in high school, find their injuries to be detrimental to their career and sports season. They shoot because archery is a sport that is all-inclusive in contrast to sports that require lots of running and physical activity which isn’t an option for some individuals. Archery gives students the opportunity to participate with a team and in a competitive sport with friends. And even beyond high school, archery remains a sport of tradition in which all people regardless of age can participate which is why the sport has been preserved for hundreds of years. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try archery, and for those that do, happy shooting!
~Madi Rhinevault is a 2023 Student Contributor~