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Distinguished Coach Aims High for U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships
It’s quite a big deal for a little school to host the U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships, the prestigious annual event that draws top archers from across the country taking place at ACCC May 15-18.
“Only a few two-year schools get to host this,” said Dr. Helen Bolnick, ACCC’s veteran archery team coach. “This is pretty exciting for the college.”
Dr. Helen Bolnick has coached ACCC’s archery team for more than 30 years. ACCC will host the USIAC May 15-18.
Then again, Bolnick has never been one to think small. During her 30-plus years with ACCC, the youthful 82-year-old from Elmer has served as a highly inspirational mentor to numerous young archers—with impressive results. In fact, this is the third time during Bolnick’s tenure the college has hosted this event, which is sanctioned by the National Archery Association, and rotates through various colleges in the country. Thus, ACCC joins such distinguished higher learning institutions as UCLA, James Madison, Arizona State, Michigan State and Texas A&M universities.
Perhaps that’s not so surprising, considering that ACCC has produced 37 All-America archers during the years Bolnick has been at the helm. Bolnick also was involved in three Olympic competitions, including those held in Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996.
In 1976, she founded the Atlantic City Archery Classic, an annual competition established to generate more interest in the sport on a regional level. It was that event that inspired a young high school archer from Hammonton named Steve Gatto, 20, a general studies student at ACCC, to become involved in the college’s archery program.
Gatto went on to claim first place in the country in the compound category during the 2007 National Target Championship. He also competed at the XXV Torneo Batalla de Carabobo in Venezuela in 2007, where he won the Gold Cup for overall performance in the men’s compound competition. This archery championship included competitors from around the world.
The ACCC team additionally produced Sagar Mistry of Brigantine, who was ranked 9th top recurve archer in the world among All-America Archers and/or Academic All-Americans by the NAA in 2005.
Bolnick has personally garnered numerous honors, including the 2006 Margaret Klann Coach of the Year Award, named for the legendary archery coach who held forth at Arizona State University from 1946 to 1976. Klann founded the U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships in 1966.
These are just some examples of the team’s numerous accomplishments through the years, and how Coach Bolnick has managed to generate excitement for a sport that’s anything but. “This is not spectator-friendly,” she drolly conceded. “It’s like watching grass grow.” Be that as it may, Bolnick’s enthusiasm for this ancient sport—combined with her superlative mentoring talents—have positively influenced many young archers through the years.
“Dr. Bolnick is great. She’s been like a second mom to me,” Gatto said. “She has confidence in every one of her archers.”
The U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships takes place Thursday, May 15, through Sunday, May 18, at ACCC, 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing. For more information, call Bolnick at (856) 358-3196, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.