Led by head coach Becky Hedges, the Prosper Archery program has found major success in its first year despite being recognized by PISD only as a club and not as an official sport. Although the group has experienced much popularity and interest, there are challenges to becoming an officially recognized team. One of which is the fact that they are governed by National Archery in the Schools Program regulations rather than University Interscholastic League.
“I decided to start the team because when I moved to Prosper in December 2015, I found that Prosper didn’t have an archery team, despite teaching National Archery in the Schools Program in their Outdoor Adventures/Education curriculum,” Hedges said
Because it is not recognized by the school district, the program is run by volunteers and paid for by the parents. Becky and her husband Todd became certified coaches, and a few dedicated parents volunteered the money to purchase the equipment.
There are currently sixth, seventh and eighth graders in the program. Next year, those eighth graders will move up to ninth grade and thus expand the program into the high school.
Jessica Hampton, who is now ranked eighth out of all seventh grade girls in the state, explained what she loves about archery.
“I love how we get to come out here and be with our friends,” Hampton said. “It’s really fun to come out and shoot. I love how excited everyone gets when someone shoots really well. We try to practice at home but it’s hard.”
When the email went out to Rogers and Reynolds middle school in the fall, there were more than 200 students that showed up to voice interest in the archery program. Unfortunately, however, because of the small size of the current practice facility, they could only accept 32 archers. In addition, they only had two coaches at the time. Knowing that the program will soon be introduced to Prosper High School and the interest is therefore multiplying, a larger practice space closer to home is essential for the growth of the program, Hedges said.
“When I see my daughter learning discipline, confidence and excitement for a sport, I get really excited,” Jeena John, an archery mom said. “Coach Becky is awesome. All of the coaches are amazing, but she has a special way with the kids.”
The program only began in September and the team has already qualified for the state competition with several kids qualifying additionally in individual competition.
“We came in fourth place in our first competition at Kaufman in December, followed by third place in a virtual tournament, and most recently second place in Lewisville,” Hedges said. “We’re currently ranked ninth in the state out of 42 middle schools and will be competing in the Texas State Archery in the Schools competition on March 23/24 in Belton, Texas.”
The biggest challenge right now for the program is finding space for the team to practice. They are currently practicing at the Texas Archery Academy in McKinney, but space and times available are limited. They are in need of an indoor space in Prosper for the team to practice. They have all of the equipment and are purchasing the targets and other supplies needed, it is merely the space that is left for them to find.