Some of the best young archers in the country took aim at a national title recently and the archers from East Elementary Archery team traveled to Kentucky to compete on the national stage.
“We have a very consistent, hardworking team,” EES Archery Coach Brant Whitlock said of his squad. “They’re dedicated to becoming the best individual archers possible, as well as determined to have a very successful year as a team. They're so proud to be on the team, not only to compete in archery, but to be able to represent East Elementary. That's one thing that is so special about our school, the kids love saying that they’re part of an EES team!”
The East Elementary Archery Team is full of great archers from top to bottom, and each team member brings something to the table and contributes in their own unique way.
“We're so competitive across the board that at any one tournament we could have a different top scorer,” said Whitlock. “Our team scores have gotten better each tournament this year, including Nationals. A few of the archers who've been consistently at the top of our team include: Jed Wilson, Alex Shephard, Ashlen Heatherly, Carly Starnes, Luke Troutman, Samantha Johnson, Jackson Miner and Conner Laney.”
The team has performed well all year. They earned their way to Nationals by winning a handful of tournaments throughout the season, including the inaugural Cullman County Tournament and the Cullman City Parks & Recreation Department’s Pre-Season Tournament. The East Elementary team then went on to place second in regionals and eighth in state to earn their spot in Kentucky.
When asked about how his team performs so well each at and every tournament, Coach Whitlock had this to say: “Dedication to Archery. I know that's a simple answer but with the way the sport and academic world works today, often times archery takes a back seat. Our students made archery a priority and just as important as some of the main stream sports, as well as academic teams. One big reason for our success was the dedication by assistant coach Beth Binkowski or "Ms.B" as she is known at East. She practiced the students during weekdays after school while I was tied up with 9th grade basketball or middle school soccer. Our success was due in large part to her time spent with our kids. Parental support was also a key factor in making it to Nationals. Allowing their children the time after school to practice as well as the constant support given to us as coaches plays a huge role in success.”
In closing, Whitlock shared his feelings on his team’s season and expectations looking forward to next year.
“I feel that our team did very well overall. Our goal was to return to State like we did last year. We reached our goal and created East Elementary tradition along the way. We finished 106th in the national (traditional shoot) & 37th in the nation in the 3-D shoot. I would say we exceeded expectations, set a standard for next year, and started a tradition at EES that we'll strive to uphold year to year.”
As coach Whitlock eluded to, sometimes sports outside the “big three” of baseball, football and basketball get overshadowed. But, through hard work, dedication and a will to win, the archers at East Elementary are bringing archery to the forefront of sports in Cullman.