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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - In the final end of the second match at the 2017 AAE Arizona Cup, Dahlia Crook loosed her third perfect 10 in a row for a 30 to Emily Bee's 29 to take a narrow win and advance in the competition. Emily and Dahlia turned to hug each other in congratulations and mutual respect of a good match between good friends. By the start of the next match, Emily was on the coaching line behind Dahlia, championing her on to win gold.
"I have shot against Dahlia many times, and I have shot with her on a team," shared Emily. "She is one of my competitors that I would be happy to win or lose against. Going into that match, I knew how good of a shot I was, and how good of a shot Dahlia was, and I knew it could be anyone's game. I remember getting up on the line and walking down to the target and just talking with her and having fun and enjoying it because that's what it's really about."
After Emily handed in her scorecard, Dahlia's parents approached her and asked if she would line coach for Dahlia. "I went up to Dahlia to ask if she wanted me to be here with her and she lit up and said yes," shared Emily. "So her next match right after she beat me, I was behind her on the line."
She added: "I have cheered her on, and she's cheered me on, so going head to head against a friend is, I think, more rewarding because you have the outlook at the end of the match for the better, so it's not like you're walking on the line like 'I'm going to beat her, I'm not going to talk to her,' it's more of like 'I'm going to enjoy this and if she wins, I'll uplift her in her next match.' It was cool to see her happy and shooting her best and having a really good day and be able to support her in that. I don't know how I could not be happy about another archer shooting their best."
Dahlia shared: "Emily ended up staying behind me the whole day and making sure I stayed focused, but not overly focused. We were just having fun hanging out together and she would talk to me while I was on the line like 'good shot' and was just really encouraging the whole time. I don't think I would have gotten through all of my matches, and I don't know if I would have won if she hadn't been keeping me relaxed the whole time so I'm glad she was there; it was a really good experience. I asked if she would coach me in the gold match and it was really cool to have one of my close friends encouraging me and keeping me focused the whole day."
Emily, who is a student-athlete at Michigan State University, had struggled a little throughout the tournament with not performing at the level she expected of herself from when she was able to put more time into training. "Being in college and shooting archery is very hard," shared Emily. "This past indoor season, I had some equipment troubles, nothing was fitting me right, so I came into outdoor season realizing that and with some changes. I showed up with the mentality that I was going to have fun and enjoy it because I am in school and I am so busy it's hard to get in quality shooting."
Truly mutually respectful athletes and friends, Dahlia was there for Emily on qualification day: "Whenever Emily and I are remotely near each other at a tournament, we try to sit together just because it's nice to hang out with someone you're close with while you're shooting. You know they'll be there for you and be encouraging whether you're doing great or you're struggling, or it's just an average day, whatever."
She added, "In Arizona, we had been talking the whole time - she was a few bales away in qualification and she had mentioned that she was balancing school and archery and life was hard, so I think it was right before the last end, while the other line was shooting, I asked her if I could pray with her and she said yes." Emily then came back the next end and shot her best six arrows of the day.
One of the unique things about the sport of archery is the great amount of time available for conversing between athletes when waiting to shoot, or to walk to and from the targets for scoring. Athletes have the opportunity to be friends or competitors, and those who are able to do both are those who make our sport so much about community and family.
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