Long County High School senior Cassandra Pelton hit another bulls-eye Friday as the archery competitor was offered a full-ride scholarship to Emmanuel College.
The 2016 Olympic hopeful signed the scholarship at the high school’s media center, which takes her career to the next level but keeps her under the watchful eye of her coach, Rodney Estrada.
Estrada said Emmanuel College brought him on board to start their archery program and knew Pelton had to be among the group of talented archers he has assembled.
Estrada started coaching Pelton about a year ago when Pelton’s mother Lynn told him she was desperately looking for a coach who could push her daughter to her full potential.
“Before I take on a student and train them, they have to interview with me and one of the things included in my interview is a statistical study … and we were doing statistics at midnight … and she was willing to sit there and go over the data with me, and from that moment forward, she showed that spark and drive she has, which is second-to-none,” he said. “In the span of this past year, she went from being ranked 477 in the country to being ranked 11th now, which is a remarkable thing.”
In addition to her scholarship, Estrada announced that Pelton also was signed by PSE Archery as a staff shooter. PSE Archery is the industrial leader of competition and hunting bows, and their staff represents the best archers in the nation. Pelton also received a brand-new Recurve Bow for her upcoming birthday.
“This is an incredible accomplishment,” mom Lynn Pelton said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
“In my freshman year, I didn’t even know an archery scholarship was even possible,” Cassandra Pelton said. “Now it’s my senior year and I’m going to get a full ride to college doing something I love and getting the degree that I’ve always wanted and getting closer to Christ, … I just can’t imagine anything better.”
Emmanuel College is located in Franklin Springs and is a private, Christian, liberal-arts college affiliated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.
Pelton said she will complete all her pre-med studies to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
“Prayer is my first resource,” she said about the responsibility of keeping her academic and athletic talents in balance. “Plus, my family and my coach have always been incredible assets and keep me on the straight and narrow. So I have an awesome support system.”
Her coach thinks she still is on the right track to be considered for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, and Pelton said making the team still is in her heart as well.
“I went to the Olympic training center a couple of months ago and they have a sign that reads, ‘The Olympics in not every four years, it is every single day.’ “So every single day I see myself on the medal podium in 2016 in Rio.”
Long County High School principal Scotty Hattaway called Pelton a role model.
“I am certainly proud to see her receive this opportunity,” he said. “Her work ethic is outstanding and it is really rare to see that in this day and time in a teenager. Her tenacity is also very unique. She focuses on everything with a level of expectation to achieve perfection which is very much appreciated from a high school principal’s stand point and I hope it is very contagious as well.”