The town of Flower Mound recently saw one of its own crowned a state champion, but it was not a Flower Mound or Marcus High School athlete.
Nikki Taylor, an eighth grader at Lamar Middle School, won the State Indoor Archery Championship in Waco in late February, in a field of more than 600 competitors.
Coach Ferris Bavousett said Taylor’s accomplishment is remarkable, and said the 14-year old archer has come a long way since joining the program a year ago.
“Nikki was in my outdoor education class last year as a seventh grader,” Bavousett said. “She was a very quiet and reserved student and hardly ever talked at all, much less smile. She showed interest in the bow early on, and it was apparent to me that she enjoyed shooting.
“This year as an eighth grader, she took the advanced class and quickly improved her scores. At the onset of this school year, I told her from the very beginning, that the goal was the state title…Nikki beat not only all the middle school kids, but all the high school boys and girls, and she set a new state record by 11 points.”
The archery team is comprised of members of the outdoor education class, which Nikki said she joined last school year.
“My dad thought I would like the course because I like outdoors stuff more than the traditional girly stuff,” Nikki said. “There was fishing, camping, outdoor cooking, etc. We didn’t really know that there was archery, but it was one of the sections we learned. I went to my first tournament in Waco last year, and came in 14th. My mom and dad were shocked, because they knew nothing about archery.”
Nikki said she was very relaxed going into the state competition, and was just trying to have some fun.
“I wasn’t really concerned,” Nikki said. “This is fun for me. Winning wasn’t the goal for me.”
Nikki did not mince words when it came to what she found most appealing about the sport of archery.
“Hitting the center target over and over,” Nikki said.
Nikki, who is active in her church’s youth group and enjoys reading anime books in her spare time, qualified for the National Championships next month in Louisville, Kentucky with the victory at state, and she said she and her family are going to make it into a mini-vacation of sorts.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Nikki said. “My parents and I are going to make a family weekend of it and do some sightseeing, too.”
Pam Taylor, Nikki’s mother, said watching her daughter win the state championship was impressive, but nerve-wracking at the same time.
“It was very exciting to see Nikki in the tournament,” Pam said. “I know we were much more nervous than she was. I was holding my breath every time she pulled the draw string, but she was so calm, and so steady – wow, I wish I had her concentration.”
Pam said she would like for her daughter to take away a couple of things from the experience of winning a state championship.
“We are hoping that one, she realizes that she has a special gift from God and uses it to her best ability,” Pam Taylor said. “Two, she wins a top position at Nationals in May and potentially goes onto World, and three, that she realizes that this is a sport for life, and that she continues with it throughout high school, college and beyond.”
Bavousett said winning a state championship was huge for Taylor, but not completely unexpected, either.
“This was a goal that Nikki had set for herself,” Bavousett said. “Obviously, she had to want it before that dream could ever become a reality. As her coach, I always felt that this was within her reach, and I did push her hard to achieve it. Jokingly I would tell her ‘Bring me a trophy,’ the famous lines in the movie Major Payne.”
The National Championships will take place on May 7 & 8 in Louisville, Kentucky.
An estimated 6,500 archers will compete at nationals.
A number of Lamar Middle School archers had excellent showings at the State Indoor Archery Championship, with four qualifying for nationals.
Presten Kendall, Tristan Smith, Paige Theall and Nikki Taylor all are headed to the national tournament in May because of their efforts at state.
“Lamar Middle School has seven archers place in the top ten in the respective divisions [at state],” Coach Ferris Bavousett said. “I was extremely proud for the students.”
Bavousett said he wanted to give special thanks to Lamar Middle School principal, Mike Fields, whom Bavousett has been extremely supportive of the program.
Bavousett was inducted into the Texas Parks & Wildlife Hall of Fame on March 18 for “outstanding achievement in teaching the TPWD curriculum to students, taking kids hunting and fishing, and training other adults to become certified TPWD Instructors.”