The University of Pikeville in Kentucky is a small college of less than 2,500 students, but it offers a big-time archery program for those fortunate enough to qualify. Shane Hurt, the head archery coach, values his students and encourages them on and off the range. One way he helps is by providing athletic scholarships.
“The scholarships vary in amount based on their talent and financial needs,” Hurt said. “We tailor the scholarship to each individual to help the best we can.”
Scholarships can be a big financial help, but should not be the only factor archers consider.
“You have to find a college that makes you feel comfortable,” Hurt said. “The goal is to get you into college, and get you to finish whichever college you choose.”
What Does UPIKE Seek?
What does Hurt look for in potential archers? His focus, besides talent, is good grades and healthy interactions with the team.
“Scores are obviously important, but I keep notes on the archers, and watch how they interact with their teammates, competitors, coaches and the judges,” Hurt said.
He also recommends that athletes focus on their high-school academics, because it’s a large part of the decision on each prospect.
“[Grades] are the No. 1 reason they’re in college,” he said. “That’s something we really look at as they apply: what kind of grades they have in school.”
Hurt said a high grade-point average helps broaden potential college choices. “(They should) keep their grades up and keep their options open,” he said.
Hurt recently won an “Impact Award” at the 2020 ATA Trade Show. These awards go to those who made an industry impact through service, creativity or technology. Many archers who Hurt coaches nominated him for this award, attesting to his success and their admiration for his coaching. Visit archerytrade.org to read about Hurt’s reaction to the award, and to learn more about the Impact Awards.
Hurt cultivated that community support in just three years at UPIKE. The school has offered archery scholarships since the program’s 2017 inception. Every archer on the team has earned some level of financial help.
The college’s program grew rapidly, and Hurt noticed. “We’re at 34 archers this year and we have all four (archery) disciplines,” he said. “We have compound, bowhunter, Olympic recurve, and barebow. We have a complete team in each division. That’s the direction I want to take the program. I want to fill the roster with every type of archery, and put value in each one.”
UPIKE competes against eight schools in the Mid-South Conference, and Hurt acknowledges the small-college atmosphere might not fit everyone. “It’s in eastern Kentucky, so the challenge is geographical, for the most part,” he said. “But if they give the city of Pikeville and the University of Pikeville a chance, and come and visit, it would sell itself. It’s a really wonderful campus. It’s a small school. All the professors talk to the kids. They know them. They talk about their grades. After they come back from a tournament, they all know how they’ve done.”
The college’s athletic programs are so interactive that the president, provost and athletic director take archers to their tournaments. “It’s really a family atmosphere,” Hurt said. “If they’re looking for a family to be a part of, it’s a really great place.”
That atmosphere also holds archers accountable for their grades. “We have a minimum GPA they have to carry, or they have to do study hall once a week, and tutors are available,” Hurt said. He also noted the archers help each other with their courses. “It really helps them to have some archers in their classes. They hold each other accountable.”
The value Hurt places on academics further generates a successful atmosphere. In addition, he works to organize events where archers can participate as a team. After reporting to campus, they spend the next weekend together on a camping trip. “We use that to get to know each other, and bond and camp over the weekend,” Hurt said.
Hurt said he also wants to organize a team bowhunting trip. “Throughout the year we do different things, like carve pumpkins at Halloween,” he said. “We’ll have a Thanksgiving dinner for them before they (return home). We try to do a lot of things as a team.”
The University of Pikeville and its award-winning coach welcomes those who decide the college fits them. “No matter what type of bow you shoot, whatever type of archery you shoot, there’s a place for you at UPIKE,” Hurt said.
Visit the UPIKE website for forms and more scholarship information.