Most athletes would love to be invited to an international competition to compete against their peers, most of whom are considered the best in the world. Not Hatley Hetletved.
The 15-year-old archer from Bismarck has earned a roster spot on Team USA at the 2022 Youth and Masters Pan Am Archery Championships May 30-June 5 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. But her competition there won’t be against peers. Instead, she’ll be shooting alongside archers who are three to five years older than she is.
Hatley will compete for the USA Red Team in the junior division, which features archers between the ages of 18 and 20. She could be shooting in Cadets, which is for archers 15 to 17 years old, but she is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really excited, but it’s definitely nerve-wracking,” Hatley said. “But I feel confident I can pull a little something off. I would like to be in the top half. That’s really my performance goal for out there. But If I run my process, I feel like I have just as good a chance as anybody else.”
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Hatley came up just short of making the team last season, but she used that, and the success of her older sister, Kinley, as motivation this season.
Nineteen-year-old Kinley is another product of the Nishu Bowmen youth program and their parents’ involvement in archery. Their dad, Lee, is parliamentarian and mom, Penny, is secretary for the club. Currently, there are around 400 adult and 240 youth club members.
Lee and Penny got involved when Lee gave up rodeo about 12 years ago. Lee says Kinley, who is on an archery and golf scholarship at Mount Marty University in Yankton, S.D., immersed herself in archery right away; Hatley not so much. But it didn’t take long for her to strap on a quiver.
“Kinley found this when I started shooting,” Lee noted. “I quit rodeo, and I had to do something. Kinley went right to it. … Hatley grew to like it. She’ll say that she didn’t know if she liked it to start with.”
Kinley, who made Team USA last season and competed in the world ranking event in Medellin, Colombia, exactly one year ago, has her sights set on the National USA field competition and world tryouts. The top three shooters will make the USA Archery World Team to compete in October.
Hatley said it’s valuable having a sister so skilled in the same sports. So, who’s better?
“That’s a little controversial,” said Hatley, who attends Century High School. “It gave me a good, healthy amount of competition to have her around. I always strived to be better than her.”
An archery scholarship, like those earned by Kinley and Ela Smallacombe, who attends Union College in Kentucky, might be in Hatley’s future. But that opportunity will come if she stays focused on her shooting. For now, that’s what matters to the high school freshman.
“USA Archery is the main goal,” Hatley said. “Everybody wants to be on the team and everyone wants the jerseys. Really, from the beginning that’s been the biggest goal. My goal was to be on the USA team.”
By earning a place on the team, Hatley will shoot for Lee, who is USA Red Team coach for a couple different regions. He also is regional elite development coach for North Central Elite Archers, for which Penny is the director for mental performance.