Princeton archer has Olympic dreams

Anna Whitcomb holds one of her trophies next to a pile of some of her state archery title plaques.
Anna Whitcomb holds one of her trophies next to a pile of some of her state archery title plaques.

Key events would have to happen for the nearly 13-year-old Anna Whitcomb of Princeton, for her to achieve any Olympic dreams in archery.

Whitcomb, meanwhile, has been developing her archery skills to a high degree and has gone to using an online school to help facilitate all that.

She explained last week at the family archery range that her parents Andy and Gail Whitcomb operate as Whitcomb’s Whitetails, how her many hours of archery practice and archery tournament times have made attending a public school more difficult.

Anna says she would like to compete in archery in the Olympics someday but that right now the Olympics only has archery as a sport using a recurve bow. Anna uses a compound bow, a type that has a levering system comprised of pulleys and cables that give superior energy efficiency over the recurve.

Anna is continuing to maintain and improve her archery skills so that if the Olympics should include the compound bow as an archery sport, she could be ready, Gail Whitcomb said. Anna would qualify for the Olympics age-wise in about four years, and it could take that long for the Olympics to adopt compound bow archery as a sport, Gail Whitcomb said. Gail added that she (Gail) doesn’t think that it is a matter of “if,” that would happen in the Olympics, but more a matter of when. It would have to begin, Gail said, with Olympic officials first agreeing to give it a trial period, before considering adopting it. Gail and Andy said the reason they believe this could happen is because so many competition archers are using compound bows.

Andy added that if the Olympics can adopt snowboarding and some other sports that he hasn’t considered so mainline, why would compound bow archery not become part of the Olympics.


Anna has done well

Anna has already gained the distinction of having a perfect 360 record archery score in the cub division of ages 8-11. She did that as an eight-year-old in 2009. Anna, who is most proud of her world champion win as a cub archer in the Las Vegas tournament that year, has seven archery records, of which one is world and the other six are state.

Anna’s career goal is to become an archery professional. Her parents said that if she continues to perform as she does in archery and reaches that goal, she will have a pretty good living financially.

This is Anna’s second year of being enrolled in an online school through MTS Minnesota Connections Academy, a tuition-free K-12 “virtual” school that uses state-certified teachers. MTSMCA’ literature calls its schooling a high quality, text-based curriculum, with “unique technology tools, as well as an extensive selection of electives and clubs, and community experiences.”

MTSMCA says the end result is to “create a supportive and successful environment for children looking for an individualized approach to education.” Teachers develop a learning plan for each student and track their progress.

Gina Swanson, a spokesperson for MTSMCA, says that Anna doesn’t have to worry about having to work ahead or fret about falling behind in her classes, because she can take her computer with her as she travels. A lot of Anna’s communication with the school is through e-mail. Anna figures she spends about four hours a day on class work on average, and the flexibility allows her to work ahead if she wants and take breaks.

Anna says she prefers this over traditional public schooling because it fits her schedule that includes an average of two hours of archery practice each day. She finds most of her friends through knowing others who home school. The Whitcombs said they view online schooling as a form of home schooling. Anna also says she gets a lot of socialization through her archery, and notes that she has five cousins who are enrolled in online school. Anna’s brother Jake, 10, is enrolled in MTSMCA and her sister Marissa, 7, plans to do the same.

“I like it a lot,” Anna said of the online school,.” The school is not easy and MTSMCA teachers push her, she said. Anna didn’t even know anything about the Olympics until she was about seven or eight, but now one of her dreams is to compete in the Olympics through archery, she said.

When Anna was asked about her life goals, she replied that when she gets older and “if I get better” in archery, one of her goals is to win the Vegas adult female archery category in compound bow. She noted that it has a $20,000 prize

“It’s what we’ve always been working for,” she said.

One more thing that Anna has going for her is that she grew up in an archery range. Her parents’ business includes selling archery equipment and the Whitcombs have a full archery range with plans to build a second one at the same location just north of Princeton.

The Whitcombs’ archery range becomes a hub of archery activity during the school year, with the Whitcombs running physical education classes in archery for Princeton High School and also hosting league play for grades K-12 in which various towns compete with each other.

Among all the archers that congregate at Whitcombs to shoot arrows at targets, there is a star archer named Anna Whitcomb who hopes to go even farther in the world of archery competition.