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NEWBERRY, Florida - Today, Texas A&M University won its 20th National Team Championship since the program began in 1996, an absolutely incredible feat. To win this prestigious award, a school earns points for placement in individual, team and mixed team competition across multiple divisions.
Frank Thomas, who first began the program shared: "Number one is the stability of having people in place that are going to let you be successful. It all started with some archers that trusted me while I was terrible and I worked myself up to know enough to be able to coach at a high enough level to make us competitive. About that same time, we had a gentleman named Rick Stonebraker, and Rick had shot for a couple of years twenty years ago for Penn State. He hadn't graduated and he came back to A&M and he could shoot amazing scores. As soon as we could see these scores being shot, we knew we could shoot them and it changed everything. We went from a struggling club to within two years to being national champions. We knew we could do it because we could see it being done."
Coach Thomas, added: "Success begets success. Myself and Kathy Eisisinger built up a pretty good team. She moved on about the time that Lorinda [Cohen Gomez] was finishing college and then Bill [Coady] worked for me and we became an amazing coaching team. We each have our own special niche and having that consistency to bring the kids in and then our premise is to surround yourself with people who you want to be."
Aggies lift each other up and inspire each other to work harder. "Our goal at the end of every year is not just to win a national championship, but to make every archer better than they were at the start of the year," added Thomas.
Thomas credits a long legacy and history for the team's current success: "Whenever you're successful and you're on the top, you're standing on someone else's shoulders. We're standing on the shoulders of a lot of archers who came before these archers and we're very blessed. We are very fortunate to have the coaching staff, equipment and facilities that we have. There are a lot of people that lifted us up to get where we are today and I'm super thankful."
A&M has produced archers who have gone on to represent Team USA on the world stage, competing at the Olympic Games, World Cups and World Championships. Thomas has also coached Team USA erchers to international podium finishes. "It's been a great journey for the A&M team," he continued. "And that's what it needs to be, if all we had was just this national championship… but they have the friendships that will last a lifetime. These are the people that are going to know their kids and grandkids and birthdays and that's what makes us a team, is at the end of the day, these people are going to know each other forever and it bonds you and makes you work harder."
Graduating senior Robert Hogan also beamed over the win: "It's just so great, I've been here for a long time and it's always good to see us get where we are, compete well and meet new people; it's such an honor."
Michelle Gilbert, who also just graduated and has represented the U.S. in international competition added: "It's awesome, it's been a lot of fun to be on this team. There are a lot of traditions and its real fun to be on a team where you have a lot of people who can help you do well."
Congratulations to everyone who has been part of the Texas A&M legacy and earning twenty national team championship titles. Complete results from the 2018 National Outdoor Collegiate Championships are available here.
When asked how the A&M team was celebrating this historic win they answered: "WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!"
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