Rod White

Rod White, who has won two Olympic medals in team archery, was at Holmen’s Halfway Creek Park last week to share his expertise with some area youths, including Lexi and Jordan VanDyken of Onalaska.

Some lucky area youths got a chance last week to get some archery tips from a master.

Rod White has two Olympic medals in team archery, a gold from the 1996 Atlanta games and a bronze from the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia. He was 19 years old when he won the gold medal and remains the youngest man to ever win an Olympic gold medal in archery.

White, who lives in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, has been working on launching Infinite Archery with Holmen’s Steve Johnston, who has worked on marketing campaigns for Dreamworks and Ashley Furniture through the company he started, The Wowfactory. During a visit to Holmen last week, White got together with about a dozen area youngsters at Holmen’s Halfway Creek Park to introduce them to archery.

Bow hunting was the initial reason White took up archery at the age of 12, but his competitive, goal-setting nature pushed him into target shooting contests. He played football and baseball, but the solitary, mental nature of competitive archery appealed to him.

The first year he qualified for the national championship, he finished 44th out of 46, a showing that he said made him determined to excel. He put in a lot of hard work and practice, and the next year he finished eighth. “It just kept going from there,” he said, with national championships and making the Olympic team as highlights in his archery career.

White put competitive archery on the back burner for a decade to start a family, but he’s jumping back into the sport, in which he sees a lot of potential for growth. Infinite Archery, which will launch a website in January, aims to help promote archery. “It’s kind of an informational melting pot on archery,” explained White, whose partner in Infinite Archery, Jahna Davis, also is a world-class archer.

With a push from the heroic portrayal of archer Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” more and more people are taking up archery, which White emphasizes is a lifelong sport for all ages. “Anybody can shoot a bow, just about,” White said, and getting good at it is all about repetition.

For many of the youths White worked with last week at the park in Holmen, it was their first time shooting a bow. But after getting tips and encouragement from White and checking out his Olympic medals, the kids might be on their way to big things, White said.

“Who knows,” he said, “the next Olympic gold medalist or world champion could have been born, right here, in Holmen.”

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Entertainment and county government reporter

Randy Erickson covers arts and entertainment and county government for the La Crosse Tribune. Contact him at 608-791-8219 or randy.erickson@lee.net.

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