Buckley’s Zeober aiming at nationals

My name is Alysha Zeober and I am in my final year with the Pierce County 4-H Shooting Sports program.

I began as a recreational archer when I joined the local 4H club called Blackhawk Archers in Puyallup. Since that time much has changed and I am now a member of a local Junior Olympic Archery Development program.

In my first year of archery I didn’t receive much instruction and didn’t know much about competitive archery until I went to my first tournament in 2007. At that time I shot in the Recurve discipline (similar to Olympic-style bows). In the fall of 2008 I was diagnosed with an early onset of degenerative arthritis and I was certain my carrier in archery was short lived, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel so easily – I really loved what I was doing.

At this time my father, who is a USA Archery certified instructor, project leader for the 4-H Blackhawk Archers and head coach for a local JOAD club, took over as my primary instructor.

After countless hours poring over equipment alternatives he and his adviser came up with something that would allow me to continue in archery with relatively little pain.

I have changed to a compound bow which is an entirely different experience all together.

Much of what I learned as a recurve shooter helped me make the transition to the new equipment style.

After many hours of practice, physical training and fine tuning the equipment everything finally came together just in time for the 2009 Washington State 4H Shooting Sports Championship.

At the end of the 2009 outdoor season I finally reached my goal in the Pierce County 4-H Championship and took first place overall. It was a great way to end the season after so many trials.

My first goal in 2010 was to match or beat the club and county point leader right out of the gate and maintain my county ranking.

At the district tournament I placed fourth for a second year and I knew I wasn’t ready for the state championship.

My coach and I went back to the drawing board and reevaluated the equipment setup and my physical condition.

Between training, practice and working out the technical and mental aspects of the game and learning the new equipment setup, I was finally exhausted and it was one week before the 2010 Washington State 4-H Championship and I went into rest and recovery mode.

Only two days before the championships, the final piece of equipment showed up and we went to work on last minute details.

My goal was to place in the top four.

That’s what I needed if I wanted to go to the national invitationals and I was fairly confident I could place in the top four at state.

From 9 a.m. until late in the afternoon the games went on and there was no information coming from the scoring officials.

I still had no idea where I was in the pack and it was nerve racking for all the athletes.

After a daylong contest in three different events that make you feel like you just competed in a triathlon, we regrouped with our club members, shook off the cold and prepared for one final event.

As the captain I lead the 2010 Pierce County A-Flight team in the “Mixed Team” Compound tournament through the semi-finals and right to a gold medal victory.

The last arrows where shot at sunset. What a day.

Still we waited for the final results of the individual games and overall scores.

The anticipation was almost unbearable and when I didn’t place fourth my heart sunk…..then my thoughts changed and I hoped that maybe I did better than anticipated and took third place.

I can’t explain my thoughts or feelings when my name wasn’t called. I was ready to pack it in and head home.

I knew I did the best I could that day but all I could think about was getting home where it was warm and dry.

I don’t know who jumped higher – my dad or me.

The announcer called out second place – Alysha Zeober - and our entire club was screaming and yelling with excitement.

All my friends and family knew I had a goal to make it to the Nationals in my final year and they also knew how much time my coach and I put into preparing for this very moment.

Suddenly I had forgotten how cold it was and all the aches and pains vanished.

I am headed to the 2010 4-H Shooting Sports National Invitational.

Lately my thoughts have been focused on fund raising to help finance the week long tournament in Kerrville, Texas.

On June 28 we will arrive with the state team in Texas and begin warm-up and practice routines in the hot Texas sun…..I am excited and honored to be a part of this team and representing Washington State.

Lately we are talking about new goals for the Invitational and while it may seem a little lofty at this juncture, I would love to be the first female competitor to place in the top 10 in all three events at the 2010 4H Nationals…..but, hey, without smart goals you can’t achieve anything.

Alysha Zeober

May 10, 2010

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