Since joining the organization 4 years ago, the NASP® community has acted as a communal haven for myself and those around me. As I, at the time an extremely shy child, began middle school at St. Mary’s School in a classroom full of foreign faces, the extracurriculars that the school offered grew to hold immense significance.
Finding my place
During the first few months of school, I ran in the school cross country team. I met not only my teammates but also my cross-country coach: Mrs. Cushing. Although neither of us knew it at the time, she would soon act as my archery coach during St. Mary’s first-offered season of archery.
As I cautiously walked into my first practice, Mrs. Cushing greeted me, the young girl partially hidden behind the safety barrier that her older brother offered from the world, with a warm smile and cheerful laugh. Through her kindness to me and devotion to the sport, Mrs. Cushing soon broke through the barrier I timidly hid behind.
Mrs. Cushing, her joyful archery practices, and her assembled team of archers soon grew on me, as the community began creating a sort of haven from the emotional, academic, and social stresses that filled my life at school. Pretty soon these archery practices developed into the safety barrier that my older brother once served as. My brother and I had joined a sort-of-team that offered us the nurturance and support of a family. For the remainder of that year, I truly looked forward to my beloved, bi-weekly archery practices.
These archery practices not only created a safe place for students to gather after school but also a tight-knit community among the team members. For me, this community carried me towards my closest friends. Friends that have long outlasted the 5 seasons of shared archery practices.
In addition to creating friendships that have expanded beyond the walls of the archery range, this community has also brought me together with people holding exciting stories and experiences, people unique to anyone I had ever met before. This social circle, created around a single sport, has proven tremendously significant to my development as a student, athlete, and overall person.
Setting my sights
As I have come so far from the frightened, little girl that first walked through the doors to an archery range, I must not stop now. I am currently working towards finally scoring the sought-after 50 at 15 meters–a goal for me since our coach placed a Human Bean coffee stand gift card on the line. Also, I am going to attempt shooting a recurve–and yes, it’s partially because of Marvel’s Kate Bishop. Furthermore, I am working to become certified as a USA Archery level 1 instructor. For me, archery is not just about the sport, but also about giving back to the community that has gifted me with so much.
Through the facilitation of Mrs. Cushing’s brilliant notion, my teammates and I have built an archer-community run primarily on the unyielding bonds of friendship, respect, and devotion. Acting as a magnet for lost souls, the sport of archery provides its participants with not only the pleasure of shooting consecutive bullseyes on a target, but also the joys of friendship, family, and community. Archery, in theory, a sport strictly of bows and arrows, continues to develop into an astoundingly impactful sport. Breaching the once limiting boundaries of the shooting range.
-S. Nicola Chmelir is a 2022 student contributor. Watch for her future submissions.-