A group of Stettler students, some now former, had the opportunity to make the memories of a lifetime when they travelled to South Africa at the end of July.
The 8 students and two coaches were part of a contingent of 71 Canadians, 48 of whom were archers, invited to take part in the Africa Genesis Archery finals tournament in Limpopo province of South Africa.
“Overall, it was a really great experience,” said Jaydon Haustein, at the team’s wrapup at Whitesands on Aug. 27.
“It’s interesting to see how all the countries differ but how we are all the same.”
Three separate groups of Canadian teams, including Stettler’s, met up in South Africa and competed against archers from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa at three different levels.
According to Jessa Heatherington, one of the coaches and adult competitors, there were 33 student archers overall and 15 adult archers from Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Haustein says that the two competition days were long; the teams were up around 5 a.m. and on the range by 7 a.m. running through both the 3D and bullseye ranges.
Teams were split into adult, junior all-star, and developmental teams.
The all-star team lived up to its name, winning gold for their division. The adult and developmental teams each won silver in their respective divisions; the overall showing of the Canadian teams was enough for Canada to narrowly win the tournament.
“We only won by six points,” said Haustein.
“It’s one arrow.”
According to Wm. E. Hay Archery head coach Tanja Heatherington, one arrow is by how much the Stettler team lost in provincials last year.
“What is it with this team and one arrow,” Heatherington said, with a laugh.
The archers departed Stettler on July 19 and spent a few days team building with the other Canadians in Cape Town before the competition, then some returned July 31 while others were back Aug. 6.
“It was definitely once in a lifetime for sure,” said Haley Sayles, one of the archers.
While in South Africa, the students were able to do a significant amount of sightseeing around Capetown — including seeing a lion —, go ziplining, try a variety of “authentic African dishes,” do lots of shopping, and have their faces painted in the traditional African way.
After the tournament, 38 of the Canadians travelled to Gqeberha — formerly known as Port Elizabeth — in South Africa’s eastern cape to take part in a safari.
While some of the students are headed to university and others are rejoining the Wm. E Hay team this fall, all indicated a willingness to go back.
“It’s the type of place that stays with you,” said coach Jacqueline Sayles, who took part in the trip with the team.
The Stettler All-Stars were able to compete in Africa due to the generosity and fundraising within the community.
Wm. E. Hay Secondary School competes in archery under the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) based out of the United States.
–With files from the Stettler Independent