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Yankton community rallies to make world youth championships special

Not the biggest place in the world, but the heart of World Archery for the next week: The South Dakotan city of Yankton.

Archery events around the world are driven by the people that give up their time to make the competition run for the athletes taking part. The World Archery Youth Championships is no different – but the Yankton 2015 event might just be special. 

Over 500 local Yankton residents have volunteered to help at the week-long event, putting their time in over the course of over 1,500 shifts. The population of the city itself stands at around 15,000. 

The opening ceremony, featuring performances from native Indian dancers that drew the athletes in to participate, a military band and a cowgirl and her dancing buffalo, drew a crowd of over 1,650. 

Five local and regional TV crews came to cover the show. 

“The community is behind this event and this sport,” said NFAA and Yankton 2015 President Bruce CULL. 

“The people of Yankton have fully embraced and were excited to welcome the 52 different nationalities and variety of cultures to our city. We all want the athletes to feel welcome and enjoy the experience.” 

From the moment athletes and coaches entered the USA, they received a warm welcome. 

Regional planes wished good luck over the intercom during flights, airport and hotel staff wore the extremely-recognisable bright yellow volunteer shirts and cashiers at the local supermarket were keen to learn more about the participants.

Yankton’s local high school produced a display on each of the countries competing, which were installed in the food hall prior to the event.

The school also leant something of an American icon for transport. The three bus lines are running the striking yellow school buses so recognisable in and out of the States. 

Jeanne, on the gold line, has been a bus driver in the city for 30 years: “It’s been nice to take the archers, but their bags are a little bigger than school bags!” 

Some volunteers, like Barb – also known as Grandma Barb, she said – who was working on checking teams in as they arrived, have been involved in archery for a long time. She’s had her entire family involved since they were five years old, with family members on teams and having travelled to four countries around the world. 

“So archery is a big part of our life,” she said. “I’ll help here wherever I can. I love people and I really enjoy meeting all the different countries competing here. I hope to make some friends.” 

Teacher Sue had so much fun checking in the volunteers during her morning shift she stayed on for the afternoon. She is not involved in archery at all – but the archery centre in Yankton is more than just an archery venue. It is a hub for the community. 

As well as two gigantic competition fields – the 1st Dakota Field and the Easton Field – two practice fields, an indoor range that functions as the event food hall, and a museum and offices for the NFAA, the Easton Centre in Yankton has a Zumba hall and an art room. 

Community groups use all the facilities regularly.

For the event, the organisers brought in a pool table, dartboard and a bunch of machines into the main building. It has made the centre not just a competition venue, but a place for athletes to relax, chat, meet and interact with each other and the people of the city. 

From Mary at the front desk to Gabby on accreditation, landscaper and deck hand Nathan to Evan and Riley on bow storage security and John and Ruth helping out in the food hall, every single volunteer said how happy they were to welcome everybody into their city. 

For both the city hosting the event and for the athletes, officials and coaches in attendance, these world championships will be something to remember. 

During his speech at the opening ceremony, World Archery Secretary General Tom DIELEN thanked Yankton for its resident’s hard work and special welcome. 

“Yankton may not be a big place,” he said. “But for the next week it will be the heart of World Archery and the sport.” 

Thank you, Yankton!

Read more about Yankton 2015.