The Hunger Games has Katniss Everdeen. Disney’s Brave has Merida. And Mercyhurst University has KayLeigh Rogers – a 19-year-old archery champion ranked No. 2 in the U.S., No. 1 in Canada and No. 5 in the world.
The Magnolia, Texas, native came to Mercyhurst to study archaeology. Thanks to home-schooling, she had a flexible schedule that allowed her to practice shooting with her compound bow three hours a day for six and sometimes seven days per week. Online classes allowed her to start at Mercyhurst 29 credits ahead, and she is considering a double major. While at Mercyhurst, she plans to start a collegiate archery club that will allow her to compete at the collegiate level as well as introduce other students to the sport.
“Mercyhurst is a great place for athletes,” she said. “Everyone here has been so accommodating of my need to practice, travel and continue to compete.”
She’ll be flying to Florida during finals week to participate in the USA Archery Indoor World Trials for a chance to compete at the biannual World Archery Indoor Championships in Nimes, France, in February 2014.
Rogers is currently storing her equipment and practicing at Dave’s Archery, 10253 Station Road. She has competed at the highest level a compound bow shooter can compete, with two world championships and three U.S. teams under her belt. Olympic shooters use recurve bows, although Rogers has shot alongside Olympians before during training.
Rogers started shooting late compared to other competitive archers, making her accomplishments that much more impressive. Naturally athletic, Rogers had participated in soccer, football and even Irish dancing but was actively looking for a new challenge. At age 12, Rogers took a field trip to Gander Mountain to learn about archery. During her first time shooting, she “Robin Hooded” – or, shot an arrow directly into another arrow. She was hooked.
“It was the coolest field trip ever, and I immediately fell in love with the sport,” Rogers said. “Archery is a great sport, and I’m so fortunate to have met so many great people through competition. We’re like one big international family.”