LEHI — If you’re going to miss school, the first week probably isn’t the best time — especially if you want to keep a low profile, like Makenzie Weatherspoon. She doesn’t like a lot of attention so missing the beginning of the year at Lehi High School wasn’t ideal — but to her, it was unavoidable.
“We talked to a few teachers and the administrators and they were all really helpful,” Weatherspoon said.
She may be a bit behind but her reason definitely hits the target.
“The summer of freshman year I made the cheerleading team,” Weatherspoon said, now a 15-year-old sophomore. “I was like ‘Well, I would rather do archery, because if I do cheerleading and break my arm, then I can’t shoot.’ So I finally made archery a full-time commitment, and started shooting six to seven times a week.”
Nearly every single day, she takes a long ride from Lehi to Salt Lake City, honing her skills at Easton Archery Center.
“This is the only range, really, in Utah that you can get the distances,” Weatherspoon said. The distance she’s shooting on this day is fifty meters — she needs binoculars to see how close she got.
“The lens in my scope is magnified, but it’s only like a four power lens, so it’s not super strong,” she said.
“When I started shooting I was 4 or 5 years old.”
Weatherspoon’s been aiming at targets since she was “4 or 5 years old.” Her dad was a bowhunter, and outside of the season, he’d take Weatherspoon and her sister to the target range.
“He probably got us these little dinky bows from Walmart or something,” she said with a laugh.
The years passed — beginner bows turned to ones used by professionals. But Weatherspoon didn’t miss the first week of school just for practice.
“I just got back from Madrid, Spain, for the Youth World Archery Championships,” she said.
When you talk about the “big stage,” it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Weatherspoon competed in the “Compound Cadet Women” category. But keep in mind, she doesn’t like attention.
“I did well,” she said, reluctantly. “I just kind of keep it simple, like…I did okay.”
Weatherspoon’s team took home first place, after defeating the team from Russia.
“A world champion,” she said. “I mean, it’s fun, it’s kind of a funny title to me, just because I don’t think it’s all that great, I don’t know, it just hasn’t set in yet.”
Despite the big win, she’s still focused on the next step — even though she says it’s difficult to make a career out of this, because there simply aren’t all that many people involved in the sport.
“Half of the sport is an Olympic sport. There’s two different types of bows: one is recurve, one is compound,” she said. “The compound bow is not in the Olympics. Hopefully it will be someday, but as of right now, it’s not.”
So for now, Weatherspoon’s looking to move up from the “cadet” to the “senior” division, and hopefully rank as first in the world. But despite all the practice and all the competitions, the hardest thing for someone who doesn’t like attention was what awaited her when she finally started school.
“One of my teachers told the whole class and made them all applaud for me, so that was kind of like, I don’t know, out there, out of my comfort zone.”