Columbia Academy student wins female athlete of the year in youth archery

COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) – Isabella Rowell, an 8th grader at Columbia Academy, won female athlete of the year for youth archery last month at the Mississippi State Games.

Rowell started competing in the sport three years ago and says it is now his favorite sport.

“I noticed a bunch of people signing up, and I had never picked up a bow in my life or watched archery,” she said. “I didn’t even know if I was going to like it at all.”

She said her ballet training has helped her immensely with balance and patience.

Mike Barber, archery coach at the academy, said the program has had many great students like Rowell over the years.

“We’ve been pretty blessed,” Barber said. “We had a lot of good kids, a lot of great shooters.”

Barber started coaching archery eight years ago. He supervises elementary, middle and high school students and has won 18 state championships. He said he was proud to always improve, year after year.

“We are not rebuilding; we’re recharging,” Barber said. “This year, we are charging. We have a lot of young kids coming out of grades 6 and 7, and they’re super talented.

“And Bella has been amazing from day one. She’s 100 per cent focused and she’s into it. Every practice she’ll be working with the new shooters, the new kids.

Barber said focus is key and the sport is 90% mental and 10% physical. He said that every student deserves to be part of a team.

“Archery is more of a mental sport than a physical sport,” Rowell said. “To be in archery, you have to commit to it.”

Archery in Mississippi Schools, or “AIMS,” is a program of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, which has been in operation since 2005. The program is now present in more than 500 schools and 50 counties.

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Earnest A. Martinez