23-year-old Olympic archer Mackenzie Brown, ranked 15th in the world, visited the Oneida Heritage Center’s Warrior Archery on Saturday, Oct. 26 to teach and inspire kids from the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley about the sport of archery. Her visit preceded the beginning of the Y’s youth archery program at Oneida Heritage, which will run Nov. 24 – Dec. 29 each Saturday morning starting at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., and Nov. 28 – Jan. 9 each Wednesday night from 5-6 p.m.

Mackenzie was introduced to archery through the National Archery in the Schools program while growing up in Texas. She began excelling quickly, further developing her skills in a Junior Olympic Archery Development club. She was selected to compete on USA Archery’s Junior Dream Team and competed for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team when she was just 16 years old.

“Archery has given me a platform to be who I am,” Mackenzie said when she spoke to the kids. “My parents instilled in me so many good characteristics like personal responsibility and faith.”

The YMCA’s program focuses on developing several life skills such as empathy, personal development, relationship building, emotion management and responsibility. By incorporating character building activities at their weekly archery lessons, kids develop confidence and build on a foundation of strong personal values in addition to proper shooting technique.

Anyone can be a successful archer through hard work and plenty of practice. There are no boundaries or limits on who can participate, making it a fun and rewarding activity that combines sport with character. Mackenzie explained that there’s a purpose to everything she does when she trains and competes. The sport enables you to set tangible goals that you can work toward at your own pace.

“Whether it’s a mental goal or physical goal, you can always find something to work on,” she said. “I never envisioned not being an Olympian. You have to know your goals, and the failures that happen along the way are what make you work harder and help you to win.”

Turtle Clan Council Member and Director of Oneida Heritage Dale Rood is excited to see the Y’s program take off and grow. “The look on the kids’ faces, and even the parents, when we get these archers to work with them is just amazing,” he said. “That’s what makes it fun and special. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Dale presented Mackenzie with a friendship feather at the end of her presentation and looks forward to her visiting again.

For more information on Warrior Archery and its programs you can visit https://www.warriorsarchery.com/ or call 315-829-8836.