Season cancellation ‘like running into a brick wall’

Archers from school’s across the region traveled to Hibbing this past January for the Assumption Archery Team tournament held at Lincoln School. More than 600 students took part in the day long event.

MOUNTAIN IRON — For a season that was going nearly as well as it could have gone, not being able to end on your own terms is something no team should have to deal with.

That is the case for the Mountain Iron-Buhl archery team as their season came to a close recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the entire sports world to press pause for the indefinite future.

From elementary school students, all the way up to seniors about to graduate from high school, MI-B archery head coach Dan Violette says everyone on the team struggled to deal with the unfortunate reality.

“The seniors are for sure taking it hard,” Violette said in a phone interview Wednesday evening. “Even the families for the seniors took it fairly hard. A lot of people are. It’s a heck of a way to end the season, especially when the season was going pretty good.”

Prior to the cancellation of the season, the Rangers elementary archery team was undefeated and the high school team had also had quite a few strong showings as the teams began to prep for the regional tournament.

“We were really looking forward to the regional tournament about a week and a half away and the state tournament a week after that.”

The regional and state tournaments were the first to be canceled, but the national tournament was still going on as planned for a while. Recently having success with sending archers to nationals, Violette says he and his squad had to look at a few different options of qualifying should the national tournament still go on as planned.

“We could hold a virtual tournament where all your kids shoot in their own gym and post a score, but then it wasn’t long after that the schools said no more after-school activities.

“Then we could go with the average scores from our last three tournaments but that wouldn’t make a lot of people happy because the average would probably bring a lot of kids down who were starting to find their groove in the last meet.”

Ultimately, the dilemma ended up being for naught as the national tournaments were canceled, as well as most other tournaments in the coming months.

“As fast as we came up with a solution to not holding tournaments, that option would get shut down and soon everything was canceled.”

The cancellation also has its own affects on the coaches and programs that were planning on sending athletes to state or even further.

“There’s so much money tied into getting these kids to the big tournaments and we had to find ways to recoup it the best we could. Hopefully we’ll be able to once everything is finished.

“I know there are coaches that are having a hard time too. There’s a few coaches in the area that were going to retire after this year and then suddenly your last season gets cut short. One coach I talked to said it’s like running into a brick wall.”

The Rangers were lucky that they were able to hold a 3D archery tournament just before the shut down began. That tournament will count as their regional 3D tournament and will be a factor in determining post-season awards.

“Instead of all meeting together, now the team trophies and medals will be sent to the coaches and we have to send them out to the kids. It’s nice but we can’t even have a team get-together for these kids that did so well.”

The next season won’t start up until November, but Violette hopes that his archers take some extra time in the offseason to practice after missing out on the end of this season.

“A lot of kids have their own bows and I know some of the families have told me over the winter how much fun they have shooting and practicing together and look forward to doing it over the summer.

“Normally by the time the season is over, the kids are ready to give it up for the summer but I think this year you’re going to probably see a lot more kids use the program at home because of what happened this season.”

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