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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Included In Archery

Kayla's tried archery the past few years at a couple of the summer camps she attends and has generally seemed to enjoy it.

Last year she signed up to be on the archery team at school. I knew nothing about what this would entail. I've never been to an archery tournament before - I didn't know anything about the tournaments, how they work, how they are run; and I didn't know how Kayla would handle all of that. Shooting at a tournament is different than shooting for fun at camp.

The coach for her school team is a phenomenal coach. Truly, he's awesome. I don't know if he's ever coached a student with an intellectual disability (and pairing that with ADHD), but he treated Kayla as if she was capable; because she is capable and she can learn. He expected the same of her as he did everyone else, while also recognizing her limitations ("when she slows down and concentrates she's right on target!"). He is patient and encouraging and he just gets each of the archers individually. He learns their strengths and weaknesses. I'm so glad he sees the potential in all archers. And I do mean all. I have seen him give tips to archers on other teams after being at the line and watching them shoot.

Her school is part of the SC Archery in the Schools Program (which falls under NASP). This first year of participating in archery was a great experience - we found it be inclusive and she was welcomed and accepted. Her lane mates (which were sometimes from other schools) were friendly and encouraging; and Joe and I both had someone come up to us and tell us how great it was to see her participating (one was a coach from another team who is also a Special Education teacher). There were high-fives from teammates, archers from other schools, and from DOR officials.

We also found archery, and SCNASP, to be accommodating to her needs.

When I say they've been accommodating I don't mean in the way of giving her extra arrows, or allowing her to shoot at only 10 meters instead of both 10 and 15 meters. No one felt sorry for her or gave her allowances because she has Down syndrome.

The accommodations were simple things like requesting she be on the left side of the lane so she can draw her arrows in front of her instead of having to reach behind her.

Her coach also went to the target with her to assist on the scorecard. This is an area where her convergence insufficiency comes into play. Here is what the scorecard looks like (like those standardized tests where you bubble in the answer.) Her eyes still have trouble teeming together and following across a line of text - especially if it's small and virtually no space between the lines. When we practiced filling out the scorecard I had my finger on the fourth line down and told her to bubble in a score of "6" - she circled the 6 on the third line. So I knew that keeping score (and you score the card of your lane mate, not your own) would be difficult for her to do.

Other than that she follows all the rules of a tournament just like everyone else and she learned all the rules and routines. She waits on the line for the whistle, once the whistle blows she nocks her arrow and shoots 5 arrows, she hangs her bow up. She stands back and waits for everyone to finish and listens for the 3 whistles to go retrieve the arrows from the target and put them back in her container. She gets her bow off the rack and stands at the line waiting for the whistle to begin the next round. I'm so proud of her for learning all of this to be able to participate in tournaments.

On her first tournament she scored a 36. As I mentioned, I knew nothing about archery or what a score means. To put that score in perspective a perfect score is 300. Ha! When I looked at what the rest of her teammates' scores were the next closest one to her was a 98 and everything else was in the 100s and 200s.

 Her next tournament she finished with a score of 76! I couldn't believe how much she improved on her score from her first tournament and I was hoping that by the end of the season she would break into that 100 mark.

This happened at her 3rd tournament. She cracked 100 with a score of  exactly 100. I was so, so excited and proud of her for reaching (what I considered) a milestone moment (score).
She had her highest score at Regional in Myrtle Beach with a 113.

The middle school team didn't qualify for State (or National) so it was just 2 more local tournaments to finish the season. Or so I thought.

At the beginning of summer her school team was asked if they would like to participate in the World tournament with another local school. The other school's team qualified for World, but didn't have enough archers to make a team to take to Orlando. So a handful of archers from Kayla's school, including Kayla, participated with this other school at the World tournament.

And Kayla? She knocked this tournament out of the ballpark! I'm talking about her own personal best. She didn't place even top 50 percent...but that's not what matters. What matters is doing her best and trying to improve on her score, and maybe her ranking, each time.

So remember Regional? Her high score of 113? She blew by that score.

She scored a 151!! 151 people! This is from someone who scored 36 on her first tournament and 6 tournaments later she had a 151! To say I was shocked at 151 is an understatement - I was hoping for maybe in the 120s, but not expecting 151. She also wasn't dead last in the ranking categories either. 21 girls finished below her for over all girls, 3 below her for all 7th grade girls, and 5 below her for middle school girls.

She received her first sports letter and pin for archery :)

 This was taken last week while she was at Camp Victory Junction - I love this shot of her!

A quick shot while practicing at home:

I'm glad this has been such a positive experience and I'm so glad she had this opportunity to participate; I can't wait for the upcoming season!


Anonymous said...

that was so fascinating to read!! the backstory to Kayla on the archery team at school and how she had enjoyed doing archery at a summer camp!! I know, I really, really enjoyed watching Kayla in the regional competition (first time watching her) and believe me, it was exciting!!

and wow, 151!! at the worlds event!! I hope she continues with this sport!! loved the short clips of her actually shooting!! Love mom/grandma

Meg said...

Wow! So great for Kayla. And good to see you writing again. I always enjoy reading about your family. Good luck to her in continuing archery.

Cindy said...

Before reading this I knew nothing about archery either. It sounds like Kayla has a gift for this sport! That's so exciting that not only is she good at it, but she also loves doing it too! Congratulations Kayla!