Since coach Dean Schultz started the program seven years ago, the Greenwave archery team has celebrated six state championships, including bringing home the state’s top archer this year, Cody Hunter Sponsler.
Schultz said — speaking honestly — when he went down to state this year he was a little uneasy about how his athletes would perform, and they exceeded all expectations.
“In years past I’ve always had good confidence but this year, for some reason, I just had that little edge to where I was nervous for my kids, but they blew me away,” Schulz said. “They were freaking awesome. They handled their pressure, they shot well even if an arrow was bad, they held it together and did what they had to do. They remembered what I had taught them.”
Sponsler took home a trophy for the highest score (287) out of several hundred student archers at the state championship in Las Vegas sponsored by the Nevada Archery in Schools Program (NASP).
The Greenwave archery team is the unofficial team from Churchill County High School, although the athletic department and the school are looking into recognizing this year according to Schultz. The team is self-funded between a $15 year fee for the students and other outside funding, including from Schultz himself, who said he values archery as a lifetime activity his students can take with them.
“I’m just excited they’re finally going to recognize the kids,” he said. “It’s no different from baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track, tennis, golf. These kids all come to practice, and it’s not just class, I have club three nights a week. As far as commitment goes, there’s no difference. That’s a kudos to the kids.”
Schulz, an archer for 37 years, also said a majority of the students shooting probably would have never touched a bow before the class and the club were offered, but the members picked it up and performed notably each year.
“You don’t have to be a hunter,” he said. “Just because you can’t play other sports doesn’t mean you can’t do archery, but this is something which, once high school’s over you can continue to do it, which is totally awesome. I understand that to win a state football championship is a big thing in this town, and we’re looking at a girls basketball team that is about 23-0, they need to be recognized.
“But so do these kids I want them to be recognized for their accomplishment. They still went down and competed against all those others kids and we were the No. 1 team out of nine teams. I had the No. 1 shooter out of all those kids. “
Sponsler, a sophomore at CCHS, not only scored the best of 500-600 students in Las Vegas but also scored a personal best above his last year score of 253 which was his first year going to a state championship.
“I have done normal shoots around California and Reno with my dad since I was four or so,” Sponsler said. “I started with the team my freshman year here, and I think I got sixth out of all the boys and went up to first this year. This year felt pretty good for sure. I was going for it last year, and this year I knew I was going to get up there, so I was really happy. I’ll be doing this all the way through my junior and senior year, and if I find a college which does that I’ll do it there.
Sponsler said Schulz has been invaluable as a good teacher to him, but that his lessons growing up with his father always helped him develop and the combination of two together were in part responsible for nurturing his skills.
“My dad and coach, both have really kind have striven to get me to succeed and now to be the best archer in the state,” Sponsler said. “I have a lot of fun doing it no matter what, though.”
“Cody is an awesome kid,” Schultz said. “The good thing about Cody is that he comes from an archery background. His dad’s an Archer, and Cody’s been an archer since he was a boy, and those sort of things help me with Cody. It’s more fine tuning with him, starting from point L or point M instead of starting from point A because he’s got the basics down.”
The cost of training and competing is arguably notable between $1,000 for five targets and $38 for every new pair of strings but Schultz said he is not after funding from the school and price is no object in comparison to safety issues.
“Maintaining bows has to be done for safety, and it’s not cheap,” Schultz said. “A string will last a year to two but I replace them for safety issues. There’s a small fee for the class which I try to keep that and use it wisely. To be honest, I put in a lot of my own money, but I’m still going to buy strings and arrows and find a way to get targets. I’m not looking for money. I’m just looking for the kids to be recognized.”
Schultz said he has no less pride in the rest of his team than he has in Sponsler or other veterans including brothers Taylen and Sean Cordes, the last two students from the program’s founding, both of whom started as sixth graders and are graduating this spring.
“They stayed with me the whole time, and I loved having those kind of kids,” Schulz said. “But I’ll take them all back every year. Every once and a while you’ll get kids who already have some experience with Archery, so it’s easier for me to advance them, but all the kids in the program bring something special and they all work just as hard as anyone else.
“Some are on other teams, some aren’t, but no matter what, they’re here to practice every practice and it showed this year just like the others.”