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MMC Announces Formation of Collegiate Archery Program

Mount Marty College joined a list that includes some of the biggest names in college sports Tuesday, as it announced the formation of a collegiate archery program.

The program, which will begin competition in the 2011-12 school year, is the first of its kind in South Dakota, and puts MMC on a list that includes the likes of Harvard, UCLA, Michigan State and the University of Nebraska.

The inspiration for starting the program came with having some of the top facilities in the nation, the Easton Sports Development Foundation Archery Center.

“It was a natural,” said Mount Marty College Athletic Director Chuck Iverson. “We spent a lot of time talking with Bruce Cull and M.J. Rogers, and learning more about the program, and how they were interested in having that part of their experience here. It just seemed like a great fit.”

Cull is the president of the National Field Archery Association, which is headquartered in Yankton. Rogers is a longtime National Field Archery Foundation Archery Coach.

While MMC will have the first program of its kind in South Dakota, there has been a growing interest in archery among college-age young adults. And, while there are programs for youth and national organizations, like the NFAA, for adults, there are have been few opportunities that bridge the gap between youth and adult programs.

“The collegiate program is burgeoning across the U.S., in part because there's a large group of youngsters coming through the national archery in the schools program, and the after-school programs, where it is day camps or Boy Scouts or whatever,” said Rogers, whose 20 years of coaching include mentoring five teams at the World Championships and five years at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego. “There's a gap that typically happens between the teens and the 20s that archery organizations, as a whole, don't carry those archers through. The collegiate (program) is an opportunity for archery development in the late teens and 20s. That is part and parcel of what this facility (ESDF Center) is all about.”

The environment at MMC is one that Rogers feels will provide a fertile breeding ground for the emerging program.

“The atmosphere at Mount Marty is very team oriented, very family oriented,” he noted.

The co-ed program will be open to beginning and experienced archers alike. Most, according to United States Collegiate Archery Program (USCA) Executive Director Lorretta Sinclair, will likely be new to the sport.

“More than 60 percent of our student-athletes learn archery in college,” she said. “There is a small group that comes out of youth programs, but the largest portion are recruited on campus. They do archery while they are at college, and hopefully continue after college.”

Archery is an emerging sport at the collegiate level, with over 90 NCAA Division I schools participating at the club level, according to Cull. A number of smaller schools also participate at the club level, such as NAIA schools like Johnson & Wales and Embry-Riddle, and community colleges.

“We are an inclusive organization. We support colleges that are two-year, four-year, private, public…” Sinclair said. “Our mission is to provide resources to support the clubs and promote the sport.”

Because archery is not currently sponsored by the NCAA or NAIA, there are no limits to the number of participants. The split of participants nationally is close to 50-50 along gender lines, Sinclair noted.

“There are a lot of opportunities for women to excel internationally,” she noted.

The ESDF Grant Program and the NFAA Foundation provided grants to help MMC with the start-up of the program. Cull hopes to help other institutions in the region start up programs as well.

“One of the kids attending Wayne State got an NFAA scholarship this year, and they will be starting a club program as well,” he noted. “We're also looking at the University of South Dakota and a couple others in the region.”

Current and prospective Mount Marty students interested in joining the archery club team should contact Rogers at the National Field Archery Foundation office, 800 Archery Lane, in Yankton. They may also e-mail MJRogers@fieldarchery.com or call 605-260-9279 for more information.

The new USCA program is open to all Mount Marty students regardless of experience. Students may be eligible for up to five years as long as they maintain a least 12 credit hours per semester. Entry-level equipment will be available as needed.

For more information on the USCA, go online to www.uscollegiatearchery.org.