By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
They call Missouri “The Show-Me State.” Which is what happened two weekends ago, when the Corbin Independent Schools’ archery teams came to the state’s largest city, and showed St. Louis how to hit the bull’s-eye.
Two teams, made up of 41 students in the program, performed well in the “Gateway to the West” during the 2013 NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) World Championship, held June 28-30.
The Intermediate team, made up of 5th and 6th grade students from Corbin Intermediate School, placed 12th in the world out of 40 teams that were in the competition.
And the High School team, composed of 9th-12th graders from Corbin High School and and students from Corbin Middle School, placed 22nd in the world out of 48 teams that were there.
When it was over, coach Patty Smith said they felt as high as the town’s best-known trademark — the Gateway Arch.
“They were right on target. They were well-behaved, they came to win, and win they did. They may not have placed first in the world competition, but they were proud to be there and participate,” Smith noted during an interview Tuesday at the Corbin City Pool, where she manages the facility during the summer months.
Among those who did well with the bow and arrow was Blake Botner, a Middle School student on the High School team. He placed 5th in the world competition in St. Louis, as well as placing 5th in the national finals a month earlier in Louisville.
His little brother seems to like the number “5” as well. While Quinton Botner, a 4th grader on the Intermediate team, didn’t place in the world finals, he did place 5th in the nationals.
When the teams weren’t preparing for the straight shooting during the competition, they took in the sights of the city for awhile. Smith said that came after a long trip in an air-conditioned bus that took eight hours over three states.
“Before the trip, and during the trip, the kids asked if there was a swimming pool in the hotel. On the way up and back we just saw cornfields. Rows and rows of cornfields as we drove through Illinois. When we got to the hotel in St. Louis, the first things the kids said were how big the hotel was, how nice it was, and where the pool was. We stayed at the Renaissance Grand Hotel downtown, and yes, it had a pool. Thank goodness there was one,” she stated.
For some of the team members, it was their first visit to a large city. And, it was quite a big, memorable visit in so short a time.
“It was a good experience for them. Most of them went right up to the Gateway Arch, and they loved it. You had to wait a long time to go up the arch, because so many people were there, also wanting to see it. We went to the St. Louis Zoo as well. We wanted to see more, but time didn’t allow us. Plus, there was a severe thunderstorm that hit the area and that slowed us down and kept us from doing other things,” Smith said.
From their hotel, the teams had an easy walk to get to the Edward Jones Dome, where the world competition was held. But to get to St. Louis, they had to do some work on their own to raise the money to make the trip.
“We first did fundraisers after the two teams qualified for the world competition. We did a car wash, a bake sale, and helped out at Froyoz, where the kids waited on tables and handed out sample cups to customers. We raised a total of about $1,500. The rest of the money raised came from donations from individuals, clubs and businesses. The Corbin Board of Education also sponsored us with a cash donation, to help with trip expenses. We thank all of them for their help,” stated Smith.
According to their website, NASP promotes international-style target archery as part of the in-school curriculum, to improve educational performance and participation in the shooting sports in grades 4-12.
When school’s in session, Smith teaches 7th and 8th grade at Corbin Middle, and teaches health at Corbin Elementary School. That’s in addition to her coaching job with the city schools.
When it was time to start the archery season in last fall, Smith started out with five teams. And that’s when the long and historic ride to St. Louis really began.
“We put our teams together in October. We’d go to different tournaments around the area. And as the season rolled on, we shot at the regional tournament in London,” she said.
But as the arrow flies, so did the fates of Smith’s teams.
She recalled the moment.
“Then something happened. All my teams qualified for the NASP State Tournament in Louisville in April. To qualify for the state, you have to place as a team, or as individuals, or, they can score enough points in regional competition to make it to the state. The five teams that went to the state were the High School team, the Middle School team, the ‘Intermediate A’ and ‘Intermediate B’ teams, and the 4th Grade team. It was the first time in the history of Corbin that all five teams got to go. It was great. I was so excited. More excited than the kids. I had to look at the scores again, just to make sure,” said Smith.
With that moment of glory done, another rung on the ladder had to be climbed for the teams. From the state, three Corbin teams — the High School, Middle School and Intermediate A teams — moved on to the NASP National Tournaent in May, also held in Louisville. And then to the world competition.
By now, as the late radio commentator Paul Harvey liked to say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”
Smith’s already set her sights on the targets ahead. With school starting less than a month away, she and her teams are already preparing to sharpen up their skills and take on another year of competition from all over the area and beyond.
The bullseye’s waiting. And so is Corbin’s coach.
“To sum up the past season, I sum it up like this. A great year. The kids worked hard, and I hope to have another one next year,” she said.