“Just take your time, breathe, and most important, have fun. It’s just like practice.”
This is the motto that was in the minds of the archery team while winning the regional tournament. This is the motto that will be in their minds while shooting in the team’s first state tournament at the end of March.
It is these same words that have inspired two students to become masters.
Senior archers Cheyanne Riddlebarger and Taylor Whitaker both intend to
become certified archery coaches for the team they have grown to love.
“Watching the team grow from being too small to having a high school team, to going to state, has been incredible to not only experience, but to watch as well,” Riddlebarger says. “The growth of the team makes me want to come back and see how the team continues to progress, and I think it would be great to be a part of that growth as well.”
Whitaker reinforces this love for her team. “The family feel that this team has keeps me coming back,” she says. “No matter how many people we have, the team has always feels like home, and everyone is accepted for who they are.”
Despite being low on team members in previous years, the seniors attribute this year’s successes to their “masters” in archery. “100% of the credit goes to our coaches, Cory and Jeff, who continuously push us to be the best we can and never give up on the team,” Whitaker says. “Both have sacrificed many nights that could have been spent with their families, but instead were used to help us grow. Without them, most of us would have given up a long time ago.”
Coaches Cory White and Jeff Walters have been mentors and teachers every step of the way during Whitaker’s four-year journey and Riddlebarger’s three years on the team. Through low scores and bow malfunctions, to personal best scores and tournament victories, Riddlebarger credits her coaches as the team’s “main key to success.”
“Teaching someone to find their aiming point can take several practices and many stray arrows, but Cory and Jeff have always been patient, and now everyone on the team not only hits the target, but scores well,” Riddlebarger says.
This same trait motivates Whitaker as she grows in her leadership abilities. “When I become a coach, I will take the patience that Cory and Jeff have, and apply that to my team,” she says.
Both Riddlebarger and Whitaker have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to compete in state. The girls will finally get to experience this dream on March 31 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville.
Although this is the team’s first showing at state, White has no worries going into the tournament. “I have no concerns about this team,” he says. “All I want is for the kids to shoot well, and I know they will.”
Before competing on the main stage, head coach Cory White shows appreciation for his team’s hard work and dedication. “I am very proud of them,” he says. “I want them to do their best and have fun. No matter what happens, we accomplished a lot this year.”
And that they did. After seeing the team grow both in number and score, White has one last piece of advice for the seniors who hope to step in his shoes someday. “Help everyone and never turn away any student.”
Ultimately, it is through his team that the master has become the student.