Sunday, April 20, 2014

Merritt Teenagers Ranking High At Shooting Sports

(This column has previously been published in the Merritt Herald)

© Othmar Vohringer

With all the news in the media about youth drug addiction and crime it is refreshing to see that there are still young people working hard to achieve success in life.

I met Sunshine and Dakota O’Donovan for the first time five years ago when they took part in the youth archery that the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club organized. The siblings enjoyed the bow shooting lessons and eagerly absorbed the knowledge provided. Outside of the program they practiced often and soon became proficient at shooting bows accurately. Two years later they enrolled in the club’s small caliber rifle shooting program under the knowledgeable tutelage of Bruce Merkely, and this has lead Dakota and Sunshine to the point in the shooting sport they are now. With dedication, endurance and many hours of practice at the shooting range Dakota just recently scored another gold medal for his air pistol shooting and is hopeful to reach the necessary points to join the BC shooting sports team that will represent our province in the Canadian Winter Games in February of 2015.

Dakota is training every week three times in Kamloops plus physical conditioning here in Merritt. Sunshine, Dakota’s sister, shows the same dedication with air rifle and is only a few points short of joining the air rifle team to represent British Columbia at the North American Indigenous Games. She too trains hard- in spite of a hectic schedule promoting the film “Shana– The Wolf’s Music” which was filmed last year here in the Nicola Valley and in which she played the lead.

When I spoke to the two teenagers in preparation of this column I could not help but to be amazed at the two. It is indeed rare to find young people in this age of entitlement that still believe in hard work and dedication to achieve their set goals. Throughout the conversation it became apparent that they both enjoy what they are doing and are fully prepared to work for it. Dakota, for example, proudly explained that he delivered newspapers for eight years without missing a single day. The money he earned from that was spent on a compound bow and his biggest pride, his own truck. Sunshine, with all the fame she garnered with her role as “Shana” is still the quiet, modest person that she always has been. With a movie role under her belt she now concentrates on her other goals in life, like joining the team for the North American Indigenous Games.

With that kind of commitment it is hard to believe that the two youngsters still find time to do other things, yet they do. Dakota is, among other things, an accomplished kayaker and a member of the Merritt Search and Rescue Team. Both believe that it is their civic duty to give back to the community by getting involved through sports and charitable activities. During our conversation there were a few times were I had to remind myself that these two are still teenagers 13 and 17 years of age and not adults, such was the wisdom and common sense approach to life the two exuded. As I said, in a time when most teenagers sit around and wait for others to give them things it is refreshing to meet two young people of Dakota’s and Sunshine’s calibre. I wish them both the best of luck in the shooting sport and in life, whatever their achievements will be; they have worked hard for it and that counts for much in today’s world.

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