Chapter One complete…

Classof2013On Thursday, I finished the first chapter of my life by graduating from Kingston Vocational & Collegiate Institute.  My graduating class was about 300 kids, with more 80% graduating with honors (academic 80% average) and Ontario scholars of which I was one. I remember walking across the stage, my brothers and sister cheering, apparently my mother cried, my father could not stop taking photos they was so proud and happy.

Besides being an Ontario scholar, I was also the recipient of couple of awards and scholarships. With the first award, my name with forever by etched on the walls of K.C.V.I. as it in engraved on a plague.

AdrienLangloisThe Adrien Langlois Award (Physical Education)

Awarded to a graduating student who has completed a minimum of three physical education credits including PSE4U (Sport Science). The student is considered the best overall physical education student as determined by the Healthy Active living department

The Sandy Prentice Memorial Scholarship

The scholarship is designed to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of a graduating K.C.V.I. student with an identified communication disability. The student must have demonstrated outstanding and persistent effort in overcoming the challenges of their learning difficulty such as reading, writing, organization or social skills. The student must also demonstrate a high degree of academic competence, the ability to self advocate and self regulate, and some level of contribution to the school community in the area of sports, clubs, or student leadership.

IMG_8776Graduating from high school was an extremely important moment for me, since at five years old, my parents were told I would never learn to read or write so not to bother to try and teach me. I have dyslexia, severe auditory processing communication disorder to be more exact, so much so that when officially tested, I scored in 1st percentile.

There is often a misconception about dyslexia, most people think of people reversing letters or numbers; however dyslexia is about learning differently, and auditory processing disorder is a broad umbrella for people who have difficultly either understanding or expressing ideas or information either verbally or written. For an overview about various types of auditory processing disorder check out the Wikipedia article.

This is the first time I have publicly acknowledged my learning challenge. Mainly because I never ever wanted anyone to treat me differently or for one minute think that I could not do something. Personally, I think it is a learning GIFT, since I just learn differently and the list of famous people with dyslexia is very extensive including Muhammad Ali, Cher, Robin Williams, Albert Einstein and many more.

RedeemerAlthough, I had been accepted at Dalhousie and Acadia, I will be attending Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario this fall studying Kinesiology, with  goals of becoming a physiotherapist and a national level archery coach.  To all who read this, do not let anyone else dictate your path in life. You can achieve anything you want to, it just takes a little hard work.

Archery is not all about Winning

victoryaSport should be about participation and physical fitness, not solely about winning. Archery is a sport you can participate in for your entire life. One of the things my coach always told me was there is a real danger of achieving success too earlier in young archers. Young kids sometimes get use to winning, and they start to expect it. They never expect to have to work at it again to win and archery (and sport in general) loses more participants that way than any other.
As a national level athlete, everyone expects me to win all the time. I sometimes want to yell out “It just doesn’t work that way”. There is very little difference between top level athletes and it is more than a game of inches. As you develop into one of those athletes that are lucky enough to gain sponsorship, there is even more pressure to win. This is why I believe some athletes turn to performance enhancing drugs or cheating.
The movie “Cool Runnings” has an excellent scene where Derice Bannock ask Irv why he cheated…
CoolRunningsIrv: It’s a fair question. It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?
Derice Bannock: No, I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.
Irv: Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
Personally, it really troubles me to hear about athletes that use performance enhancing drugs or cheat, especially successful ones. They have made winning their whole life and they are not enough without it.
As part of your New Year’s Resolution, why not make sure you are participating in Archery or any other sport for the right reasons. Whether your are participating for the competition, hunting, social aspect, physical fitness or just for pure fun, make sure you set your goals to participate whether you win or not.

Dominant Eye Training

To reach your potential in any “shooting” sport your eye dominance must take precedence over your dominant handedness. Do not assume your eye dominance is your hand dominance. If you do not know your eye dominance, read my earlier blog about how to check. Samantha asked….

I took archery lessons a few years ago. I own three bows, a compound, re-curve, and a crossbow. But one thing I never thought about until after I stopped taking lessons was eye dominance. I soon found out that I was left eye dominant, but I am right handed. So I have been having trouble hitting the target since my dominant eye is not the one being used to aim. This has been making it difficult and a little frustrating. I have tried left handed bows so my dominant eye was focused down the arrow shaft but it made it even harder to steady and was uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions on things that could help my aiming? I do not wear eye glasses or contacts. I have had my eyes checked very recently and was told that I had great vision.

If your hand and eye dominance match, you are very lucky. It is important to note that level of dominance can vary from person to person. For some archers it is very difficult to tell the difference and in some cases your eye dominance can change, although that usually happens at a young age. My little brother’s eye dominance changed when he was 8 after a year of archery lessons with a right-handed bow.

For those archers that end up cross-dominant (left–eye dominant and right-handed or vice versa), it can be extremely frustrating, especially for those who take it up later in life since you have already developed your dominant handedness.

Some archers try to force the eye to match their handedness and end-up very frustrated. Trust me you will be far more frustrated trying to force your eye dominance than training your body to do the tasks with your other hand. It may start out unsteady and uncomfortable but it will get better with practice.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

To help train your body to shoot with your dominant eye, you need to add extra practice using resistance bands to develop the muscles. Also If your eye-dominance is closer to the middle or you have switched recently; shoot with an eye-patch on the less dominant eye to help train yourself to aim using the dominant eye.

The key to achieving success is purely perseverance. Although it can be costly to purchase another bow, you need to match your shooting to your eye dominance.  My coach was already a successful archer before she discovered her eye dominance was incorrect. She changed and became even more accomplished and never regrets the work she had to do.

Crispin Duenas: Greatest Day of My Life

Crispin Duenas knew it was going to be a long day.

A 4 a.m. wake-up call followed by the first session of competition for the Canadian archer, and then the Opening Ceremony.

Turns out it wasn’t just a long one.

“It was,” a grinning Duenas said, “the greatest day of my life.”….

Read More …

Girl Guides

Before I was in archery, before I competed internationally in robotics, I was a Girl Guide. Girl Guides is a parallel movement to Boy Scout for girls in 1909, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting decided that girls should not be part of Scouts.  Therefore, in 1910 Robert’s wife Agnes started the Girls Guides, named after a famous frontier regiment in the British Indian Army, the Corps of Guides. Guiding makes a positive difference in the life of every girl and woman who experiences Guiding so she can contribute responsibly to her communities.

The Girl Guides of Canada’s goal is to develop confident, courageous and resourceful girls who will make a difference in the world.  Girl Guide values are

  • I Promise to do my best,
  • To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada
  • I will take action for a better world
  • And respect the Guiding Law

The Guiding Law challenges me to:

  • be honest and trustworthy
  • use my resources wisely
  • respect myself and others
  • recognize and use my talents and abilities
  • protect our common environment
  • live with courage and strength
  • share in the sisterhood of Guiding.

My introduction to Girl Guides at a young age has helped develop me into the person I am today. I started as a Spark, continued through Brownies, until I graduated from Guides at which point I had collected two full badge scarves and the coveted Lady Baden Powell award.

This past weekend, I was invited to a Girl Guide camp to introduce archery to a group of Girl Guides. It was a real trip down memory lane and it was a lot of fun to see young girls enjoying the same experience that I did when I was young. I remember the Saturday afternoon events at camp were always my highlight of the weekend.  This time, it was my turn to make it the best part of the whole day and teach this new group of guides how to shoot a bow and arrow. Everyone loved it, so much so I actually had a little 9 year old girl come up to me and hug me telling me how much she loved it.

To witness someone enjoy the sport and love it as much as you is the best part of being a coach. Being a part of the start of a new dream in another person’s life is so rewarding, and gives you the unwavering desire to do it over and over again.

Without people willing to help develop new dreams in kids, there may not be as many adults with successful dreams.

Competition Baby Powder

This past weekend, I participated in the Ontario Spring Classic held at Woodlands Park in Toronto, Ontario. Toronto just happened to have very hot and humid weather during the tournament.

Heat and humidity can affect your arrow flight. Humidity can cause your arrows not to spin as quickly leaving your shot grouping lower since they do not gain as much distance. Heat affects the archer too with hot and sweaty hands. Sweaty hands affect your grip on the bow possibly changing your point of power and the heat causing your hands to swell which in turn affects your feel for the string in your fingers. Check out my previous blog about other effects of various weather conditions.

 Weather is a great metaphor for life – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.  -Terri Guillemets

This year I packed baby powder, something that every competitive archer needs to bring with them to every outdoor competition.

A little baby powder on your…

…under your anchor point will help allow your hand ride along your chin smoothly

…inside of your string arm keeps your arm from becoming too sticky keeping your draw and release smooth.

…bow hand helps deal with sweaty hands that can affect your grip of the bow

… string fingers to allow your fingers to have a good grip on your finger tab making it easier to control your drawing and releasing of the string cleanly.

…cheek bones under your eyes, if you wear glasses or sunglasses, will help prevent them from fogging up.

The Ontario Spring Classic is a two-day tournament with high-performance archers including past, current and future Olympians hopefuls with the winner in each category receiving $500.00 prize money. This open tournament is a great way to measure your development against some of the best archers in Canada. If you are ready to take the next step in competition in Canada, I suggest you plan on attending next year and pack a little baby powder just in case.