In Ludowici, Long County senior Cassie Pelton has signed a national letter of intent to attend Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia.
This is an archery scholarship, yes, archery, and in just four years of shooting she is about to crack the top 10 in the nation among junior archers, making her a leading candidate to make the US Olympic team for the 2016 games in Rio.
Archery is something that has become a big part of her life, "It's something I feel like I really understand and I really know and I'm always learning, which is perfect for me. And so, it's me and my bow and it's very much a personal relationship."
It all began when the family returned from behind stationed in Stuttgart, Germany and her grandfather introduced her to archery. It was love at first sight. "I got started and I fell in love with the first shot," said Cassie. "I started school here and I joined the 4-H archery team and they put an Olympic bow in my hands and here I am today, 12th in the nation."
Now, 4 years later, the family spends a lot of time helping Cassie grow in her sport. "It's a lot of dedication but it's worth it," said her father, Donald, an Army sergeant for the last 16 years. "We have archery targets in the house, in the back yard. We spent a lot of time last summer driving all over and flying all over the country to various tournaments. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's a wonderful adventure that we've been through."
Cassie is going to Emmanuel College to work closer with her coach who sees special qualities in her. "The drive she has is second to none," said coach Rodney Emanuel. " She's driven to succeed and driven to success and she's a wonderful student to coach. I've absolutely enjoyed my time with her, working with her."
For Cassie, archery is a way to relax and focus her mind on her passion. "It's very peaceful. It helps me think. I feel like I'm very close to Christ and so this is where I feel closest to him. There's so much power in the bow and to teach my body how to handle that is an awesome experience."
Pelton plans to study pre-med at Emmanuel College and after making a run at the Olympics, she plans to go on to med school and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon.