The St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School archery team qualified for the National Archery in the Schools Program’s tournament after winning a seventh consecutive state championship tournament hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The 2021 national tournament is virtual with scores being submitted by 8 p.m. on May 8. Final results will be released May 10.
“We are going to be truly diligent in working to get our scores up and consistent regardless whether it’s virtual or we’re actually there,” said St. Joseph by-the-Sea senior Dan Pearson, a parishioner of St. Adalbert-St Roch who finished with a score of 287 out of a possible 300 for second place at the state tournament.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a different experience. We’re still looking forward to it.”
Anthony Marino is in his second year as a member of the Staten Island school’s co-ed team. He was fifth overall at the state tournament with 282 and first among boys competing in his junior class.
“It teaches valuable lessons for me and I’ve come to notice them over the years,” said Marino, a parishioner of St. Patrick’s on Staten Island. “It values patience and persistence. I know other sports do that too but archery certainly does it better. Through hours and hours of practice, you’re getting things down to finer adjustments by millimeters and trying to get better through that.
“Besides the team and the camaraderie, I just enjoy practicing a lot and being able to look at something that is wrong and realize why it was wrong and being able to fix it. It puts me in a mindset of thinking this is what is the problem, this is how I fix it and then achieving the end goal. This is the most gratifying part of it and why I enjoy it so much.”
St. Joseph by-the-Sea started its archery program in 2014 and became the first program in New York City to be affiliated with the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). The Vikings competed in their first state tournament in 2015 when they won their first of seven straight state titles.
In 2019, the Viking Archery Range opened on campus, a 30-by-90-foot indoor range with five targets.
Coach Bob Nebel, who coaches the team with George Padula, was expecting more than 100 students to participate in the 2020 fall club program before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sixty-two students participated in the fall before a team was chosen to compete in the winter and spring.
The Vikings won the 2021 state tournament, a virtual one for a second consecutive year. The national tournament is returning this year after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
At the state and national tournaments, archers have the opportunity to earn 150 points shooting from 10 meters and 150 points shooting from 15 meters. Each competitor shoots 20 arrows from each distance. The first five at each distance are practice and do not count toward their overall score.
“It appeals to a lot of kids,” said Nebel, a parishioner of Our Lady Star of the Sea. “You don’t have to be the fastest or strongest. There are no advantages to being in super top shape. Every kid has an equal chance and opportunity to compete on the same level. It’s also a sport that helps discipline, responsibility and it builds self-esteem and confidence.
“Archery is like golf. Golf is a life sport. Archery can be done at your own leisure and in many different fashions throughout your whole life.”
Nebel and his archers believe the sport will continue to grow at the school and hope the sport’s popularity will expand to other schools on Staten Island.
“I just wish we had more schools get involved,” said Nebel, who has coached the team since 2014. “It’s not a hard sport to get involved in because everybody starts from the same. There are no advantages. Everybody uses the same equipment. There is no special training.
“It’s a matter of the dedication and commitment of the kids. It’s the same as any other sport. The difference is our sport is coed, we shoot as an individual and as a team, and our sport applies to everyone. Everybody has a spot and everybody can fit in.”