Chasing Olympic Archery: Russia
Teaches Young Americans
Valuable Lessons Chasing Olympic Archery: Russia Teaches Young Americans Valuable Lessons

Russia is a long journey from the United States, but it was worth every minute of travel and time-zone changes for eight young people with Olympic archery dreams, who represented America at the European Junior Cup.

These athletes participate in a USA Archery program called the Junior Dream Team. The program helps identify young archers with strong potential, and then provides extra coaching and team-based activities during camps and tournaments.

None of the archers won medals at the European Junior Cup. These members of the Junior Dream Team’s “Red Team” – its most elite competition squad – found the competition challenging, but adjustments like the 11-hour time change proved even more daunting.

The future of Olympic archery

There’s always time for a selfie on the archery field!

Even so, with help from young archers around the world, they returned home with new perspectives on life lessons to learn through archery.

“I most enjoyed being in Russia with my teammates and the other archers,” said 15-year-old Anna Miscione of Ramona, California. “Our team was very supportive of each other, and it was cool to meet kids from other countries. We stayed in the same hotel, so we socialized with people from Germany and the UK. I feel like I have friends in Europe now. It was also cool to sightsee in Moscow. It’s a beautiful city.”

Meanwhile, the archery competition was stiff. After all, these archers will likely comprise the majority of competitors at the Olympic Games in Rio (2016) and Tokyo 2020. Although the United States chose this event for youth-team training for the first time in recent memory, other countries competed at high intensity.

“We were beaten handily at every event; the qualification round, elimination round and team rounds,” said Junior Dream Team Coach Jim White. “We couldn’t get past the quarterfinals in the elimination rounds. That surprised all the archers. … The mental game was very much a determining factor in who did well and who didn’t.”

Dillon McMenamy, an 18-year-old archer from New York City, said the tournament was enjoyable but served as a powerful motivator: “For me, the best lesson I learned … is that when you think you’re a good shooter, you need the mindset that someone across the world is 10 points better than you.

“My major goal in archery is to make the 2020 Olympic team,” McMenamy continued. “This tournament [gave] me a new outlook and dedication to practice. It made my practice more meaningful.”

The team included Coaches Gary Yamaguchi, Dee Falks, Jim White and Leng Morris; and athletes Jenny Han, Jenna Ahn, Anna Miscione, Karissa Yamaguchi, Dillon McMenamy; Geun Kim, Kent Nitta and Andrew Mateo. Also pictured: "Team Mom" Janet Yamaguchi

The team included Coaches Gary Yamaguchi, Dee Falks, Jim White and Leng Morris; and athletes Jenny Han, Jenna Ahn, Anna Miscione, Karissa Yamaguchi, Dillon McMenamy, Geun Kim, Kent Nitta and Andrew Mateo. Also pictured: “Team Mom” Janet Yamaguchi

McMenamy wasn’t the only American to learn something during the trip. “The most enjoyable part was seeing our archers grow as competitors and [as] young people,” said Dee Falks, one of the Junior Dream Team coaches who worked with the team. “Our archers learned that being the best in the USA is nowhere near being the best in the world.”

Coach Gary Yamaguchi agreed: “We in the USA can shoot with anyone, but … while our archery technique is excellent, stress levels heighten in a close match,” Yamaguchi said. “I loved interacting with our Russian hosts and meeting archers from various European nations. This was a different group of archers than we normally interact with, and they were good!”

Hard lessons to learn? Perhaps. But Miscione, like McMenamy, is leveraging the experience to her advantage.

“My major goal, like most archers, is to represent the United States in the Olympics and bring home gold,” she said. “This tournament motivated me to boost my training, and makes me want to compete internationally even more so I can really be prepared for the Olympic experience.”

Interested in learning more about the Junior Dream Team or how to try out? Check out USA Archery’s website.

Dillon McMenamy lines up his shot at the European Junior Cup

Dillon McMenamy lines up his shot at the European Junior Cup

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