“Not Your Average Archer”
National Archery in the School’s Press Release
Since the National Archery in the School’s Program inception, back in 2002, thousands of kids from all over the world have flocked to this unique and competitive sport. Not only has NASP® given students a new sport to enjoy, but it’s also been recognized for building confidence, improving academic excellence, and allowing students to make long-lasting friendships. The program has truly become the largest non-profit and equal opportunity archery program in the world. Kids from different backgrounds, ethnicity, and physical abilities are all able to participate in this program, and one student archer in particular is creating quite the buzz in the archery world!
Faith Oakley, a junior at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown, Kentucky is not your average archer. She began shooting with NASP® in the fifth grade, but actually got her first taste of archery at summer camp the year prior. “At summer camp, my cabin would to go to the archery range once a day. The coach there asked me if I wanted to shoot. I was hesitant at first, but she offered to hold the bow for me while I drew back the string and aimed. When we went to shoot with the team, my first arrow was a bulls-eye.” Oakley says, “I was so proud of myself, that I immediately wanted to shoot again. When I got home, I told my parents I wanted to shoot archery in the fifth grade.”
Oakley’s determination and dedication to this sport over the years has earned her many achievements like attaining ninth place at the 2017 NASP® World Tournament, and she has been named, “One of the World’s Top Teen Archers”, but it has not come without challenges. Oakley has a birth injury known as ERB Duchenne Palsy. It is a condition that causes nerves to be pulled away from the spine. For Faith Oakley, it makes it impossible for her to use her right arm. Since it is impossible for her to pull the bowstring back with her arm, she uses a rectangular nylon mouthpiece to pull back the string. As you can see from the achievements above, Oakley does not let her physical challenge define her. Faith’s coach of three years, David Carrico, can also attest to her determination. “Faith is like any other teenager. She has her good days and bad days. When it comes to archery, she has the drive to be the best!” According to Carrico, when Faith was in middle school and when she found time, she would often participate in the high school archery practices. It’s no wonder she has achieved such high honors and titles with her history and continued tenacity for the sport.
When Ms. Oakley was asked if she had any advice for other youth contemplating archery, her response was nothing short of inspiring. “If you are a student who is thinking about starting anything, especially NASP®, but feel like it might be too difficult for whatever reason, I beg of you to take that dream and run with it.” She also added, “I was scared out of my mind to start a sport where the majority of people competing were able-bodied, but I am so glad I did. If I had given into that fear, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am no different than you. If you have a dream, go for it!”
For Faith Oakley, archery is a sport that has “grown it’s roots deep in to her core.” Not only has the sport increased her patience, discipline, strength, and stability, it has given her numerous opportunities for the future. After graduation, she plans on attending a college that has an archery team and possibly trying out for the USA Para-Olympics Archery Team, as well. She also plans on pursuing a degree in Education. According to Oakley, no matter where the future takes her, archery will always play a role in her life.
Images Courtesy of Michael Clevenger of Courier Journal