“I can do that.”
Turns out, I can.
I can shoot a 10 on a target faster than you can say, “You do archery?”
I can read the wind like I’m a leaf on a tree, and I can dance with my bow like we’re doing the tango. But it hasn’t always been this way.
One of my favorite events of all time is the Olympics. Coming every two years, I’m all over it. I watch every sport, from gymnastics to snowboarding to table tennis. I even force myself to watch rowing sometimes. I make spreadsheets, look up rules, the whole nine yards.
January 2020, the Olympics were only a few months away and I was catching up on my Olympics knowledge when I stumbled upon one video.
“Rio 2016 Men’s Archery Individual Finals.”
It’s a two hour video. And I watched all of it.
It gets to the men’s bronze medal match and I see that an American made it. Brady Ellison, he’s gone to the Olympics before, but has never won an individual medal, or at least he hadn’t, until that day.
America won the bronze medal. I couldn’t believe it.
I did my research, looked at the stats, and was shocked. Specifically for the woman’s side, America just isn’t winning.
So I had a thought: “I can do that.”
I immediately signed up for a beginner class. It was scheduled for February, and I was antsy waiting for the day to come.
I take the 40 minute drive at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. I sit listening for 30 minutes about what’s what. Then finally, we went outside. I started shooting, and I didn’t want to stop.
I’ve had a lot of hobbies in my life, including dance, basketball, lacrosse; but this was different.
This sport is so intricate, yet so simple. I use so much energy, yet I’m so calm.
This sport gave me something I never had before: me time. The sport is all about me, and there’s no one I need to be better than, other than myself.
“Mom, mom, mom, I wanna go to the Olympics.”
The next two years of my life involve constant shooting, hours setting up and perfecting my bow, meeting new archery friends, and spending far too much money on competitions and supplies.
It’s now 2022 and I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I just had a talk the other week with my coach on what my next steps are for Paris and Los Angeles. You hear that? Paris and Los Angeles. My coach believes that I can do it, and so do I.
My parents are not archery people.
The first ever competition my mom came with me and she asked, “Can you really shoot that far?”
Well damn, I hope I can.
Now she’s the most supportive and dedicated person in my career. She understands what I need to be a champion, and she’s willing to help me get there, whether it’s traveling across the world or skipping school to win a big medal.
The Olympic dream is still alive, I think about it every single day, but it’s not the end all be all. I’ve made countless friends and amazing bonds that’ll last a lifetime, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and how good I can be as a team of one.
But hey, an Olympic medal wouldn’t be so bad.
Marjorie Stemmler is a sophomore English major with an emphasis in journalism. Aside from school, Marjorie spends most of her time working at Disney, hanging with friends, and going to archery. In the future, Marjorie would like to compete at the 2028 Olympic Games.