When Rachel Walsh arrived at Edinboro University, there was no archery club. There was no formal competition or even a practice range.
“I was devastated that I faced the possibility of leaving a sport I was so passionate about,” said Walsh, an Applied Media Arts – Cinema major and Edinboro University transfer student. “For an entire year, I dedicated my efforts to not only my studies, but being an advocate for the sport of archery.”
After approaching Campus Recreation and finding other like-minded archers, Walsh began planning what is now the award-winning Edinboro University Shooting Sports Club.
“As more people showed interest, I knew we had something – that there would be a day when the university would see value in the Shooting Sports Club and its archers,” said Walsh, who serves as the club’s president.
The Plymouth, Pa., native shared why she decided to transfer to Edinboro University from a community college and how she balances her competitive shooting career with her cinema and writing ambitions as she looks ahead to graduation in spring 2018.
How has Edinboro University helped you reach your highest potential?
I transferred to Edinboro because I saw that the university had the best animation program in Pennsylvania. I wanted to continue my education somewhere that would challenge my abilities. I have found that when you ask to learn a certain technique or skill, it shows that you don’t just want a grade, but you want to be prepared for your career. There is definitely a level of individual study, but if you want to learn something specific, just ask.
Who played an important role in your success in and out of the classroom?
I have been extremely blessed with a strong support system in both areas of my life. As a student, I’m encouraged by professors in the English and Art departments. There is constant revising and editing, so it really challenges me – with both writing and animation – to look at both aspects. Coach Jerry Gronchick and my home team, The Archery Zone, encouraged me to start a club at Edinboro and have given me the confidence to lead in every aspect of my life.
How has EU Shooting Sports helped you become a well-rounded student?
As students, I feel that the club helped us belong somewhere on campus, rather than feeling like another face in a classroom. It has helped me become a leader when I never thought I could be, and has made me cherish the relationships that we are building at Edinboro. I think for members, it has allowed them to see that we are all different. But when we come together to shoot, we are family.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far at EU?
My proudest accomplishment was a group effort by the club. We recently went to Pennsylvania State Archery Association Indoor State Championships and placed first as an archery team. I like to think that we made history at Edinboro University. It motivates me as a student leader – and a student in general – to see so many people excited about what we have accomplished together. To have President H. Fred Walker himself see value in my members, it means so much to them.
How do you balance your academics with your participation in club sports?
Luckily, archery has a set schedule, and many shoots are over weekends. It makes our lives much easier to manage. During the week we can work on projects, lab work and studies, and then we get a break from that on the weekend to just have fun. I tell my members to get their school work done first, even though I know that they would be in the range every day if I let them. We know how to prioritize and understand that school always comes first.
How has Edinboro University prepared you for your future career?
Edinboro’s professors really encourage students to grow in their studies and find passion within their major. My writing professor, Caroline Campbell, encourages students to continue with their writing skills, improve upon past works, and keep reading. It has definitely made me a better writer and has improved my own storytelling skills for my film-based program.
What is next for you after Edinboro University?
I’m not sure what is next for me, honestly, but I’m not afraid of the unknown. I’ll find where I’m meant to be in my career, and I have hope. I’d like to be an author and to be published one day. One thing is for sure: I will still be competing in archery competitions and be a consult for the next president/coach of the EU Shooting Sports Club.
For more information about EU Shooting Sports Club and all of Edinboro’s club sports offerings, visit www.edinboro.edu/clubsports.
Photo caption: Rachel Walsh, an Applied Media Arts – Cinema major and Edinboro University transfer student, shares how she balances her competitive shooting experience with her career ambitions, as she looks ahead to graduation in spring 2018.