Although he has only been shooting competitively for a few years, Avery Pagano has learned many things from the sport of archery — and recently, the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School sophomore was selected for the Junior Dream Team, consisting of the most promising junior and cadet Olympic-style archers in the county.
The son of two RFH faculty members — Science teacher Susan Pagano and RFH Industrial Technology teacher Dino Pagano — Avery is one of 30 athletes chosen for this year’s Compound Junior Dream Team. The JDT program was developed to “fast-track” archers between the ages of 12 and 18 who show early potential, and bring them together for training camps, coaching, and competitions.
Athletes are selected based on a number of criteria, including their participation and performance in the annual Team Selection Camp, and will experience training camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Graduates of the program include 2012 Olympian Miranda Leek, as well as several World Archery Youth Championships Team members and USA Archery resident athletes.
“As with any personal pursuit, dedication is paramount,” said Avery in a statement.“I have embraced the amount of focus and dedication that the sport requires, and I am determined to reach the highest level I possibly can.”
This dedication applies to all aspects of the sport.
“I truly enjoy volunteering at the archery shop and learning as much as I can,” said Avery. “I usually cut arrows for customers and for special work events, and I have learned about tuning my bow and look forward to doing it myself someday.”
On many nights his parents have to force him to come in from the practice range, as Avery simply cannot get enough of shooting in a practice or competition forum.
“I have been blessed to have experienced practice and shooting time with many of the ‘greats’ such as Vincent Mancini, a multiple-time National Champion and one-time Vegas champion, as well as NFAA Shooter of the Year Mark Pasmore,” he said.
And he has not forgotten the valuable lesson he learned during the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Outdoor Sectionals.
“I was leading by seven points on the first day of competition, but I ended up losing by eight points (and had to settle for second place),” he recalled.
“I took a lot from that – for example, how to focus on what is happening in the round and not getting too relaxed simply because I have a small lead,” said the dedicated student who also competes as a Varsity goalie for the RFH hockey team.
Avery took this lesson to the SFAA Outdoor State Championship this past August, where he took first place with a 12-point lead and set a new state record (813 points) as well.
In addition to his record-setting first-place win at the SFAA State Championship Outdoor, Avery’s achievements in 2014 included placing 31st out of 575 participants at NFAA Las Vegas (his first experience at a worldwide shoot); first place at the Indoor State Championship Indoor (583); a score of 1311 at the Mid-Atlantic Outdoor Sectional; a score of 588 at the Mid-Atlantic Indoor NFAA, and a score of 601 at the Lancaster Classic.
Avery and his fellow Junior Dream Team members will travel to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California once per quarter in 2015 for an intensive week-long training camp. Between training camps, JDT coaches and archers will continue to work together through the use of video training and conferencing.