Jillian Rambis and Nathan Cook were awarded scholarships after becoming the top shooters in the high school division of a state championship.

The Tampa Bay Home Education Activities Teams (HEAT) Archery program will offer competitive team archery at elementary, middle and high school levels for the first time this school year.

Tampa Bay HEAT Archery is a homeschool archery program and is the largest National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) team in Florida. Through HEAT Archery, Bay-area homeschooled students have access to athletic and academic support as they pursue success in competitive archery.

“HEAT Archery provides lifelong lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, perseverance, goal-setting and self-discipline. HEAT Archery strongly believes we conduct ourselves as a positive reflection of our faith, and this is built into our mission statement,” marketing committee member Tonya Ledford said.

Tampa Bay HEAT Archery won a state championship in February for the first time in the program’s history. Junior Jillian Rambis and senior Nathan Cook won the female and male top archer awards and $5,000 scholarships with their overall score of 289 each. Eighth grader Landon Ledford earned the top spot in the middle school division with a score of 280.

All three top archers were awarded an Academic Archer badge. The badge was earned by demonstrating academic success in the program and on the archery range. This award is used to recognize and promote success in the classroom while participating in the program.

“David Dlugo is the head coach and a giant reason for the program’s success. He encourages the kids to compete but never at the expense of being unethical. He is always positive and excited and creates a culture within the program that is unmatched,” Ledford said.

The nine volunteer staff members for Tampa Bay HEAT Archery are NASP Basic Archery Instructor (BAI) certified.

To further support their athletes, the coaches turned toward a collection of parent-run committees, something implemented this year to keep up with the program’s growth.

The success in 2023 prompted a huge increase in the program’s enrollment. Now, the program has around 120 students to fill all three competitive levels. With the growth of the teams, HEAT Archery plans to enter 3D shooting divisions. However, the program needs to purchase 3D targets for its archers to practice on in the program.

To meet this need by competition season, Tampa Bay HEAT Archery is looking for community members and businesses to sponsor targets.

For more information, visit www.tampabayheat.org/sports.

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Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.