CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The World Archery 3D Championships are coming up and for the first time, someone from the Coastal Bend will represent Team USA. Kristen Johnston has earned a place with the national team as they travel to Terni, Italy at the end of August. It's been quite the journey for her to get there.
“At team trials and I looked at my other two competitors, females, because you are peer grouped on the last day. I looked at them and I said i get to tell my mom that I made Team USA,” said Johnston.
A Disney movie sparked her curiosity as a child, then her competitive journey began after marrying a fellow archer.
“When I was a kid my parents played Robin Hood for me, the cartoon with the fox, and the rabbits, and the chickens, and all that stuff. And my brother and I were complete obsessed," she said.
"My parents bought us two bows. We shot incessantly. Actually so much and shot into the roof that they took one of our bows away. but that's OK because we're best friends.”
As is reaching any dream, it wasn’t easy.
Three years ago Johnston missed the cut for the team by one spot. She pushed harder to make the team this time around. But that wasn't her first obstacle.
In 1999 she was involved in a car crash that would cause severe brain injuries to her and her brother. Johnston had to learn to walk and talk again.
“He’s my best friend," said Johnston. "After 17 years of taking care of him because he became special needs with a closed head injury, he passed away.”
To reach her goal, Johnston thought she could train for 2 hours a day, shoot 200 arrows and she’d be good.
But life had other plans.
“As you know life happens," she said. "My mother ended up with stage four cancer and we’re just trying to make it through that. My dad ended up with two eye surgeries. My husband ended up with a disconnected bicep. We’re still working. I’m still raising two young children. So, what I found is that if I want to make this happen, I will make it happen.”
She's taken time to care for and move her mother who was diagnosed in January. Through 10 weeks of chemotherapy she's half way done with treatments.
"She is doing a little better," Johnston said. "She's on a break right now and we hope to give her the best rest of her life as possible. it's incredibly hard, but we are an incredibly close and fortified family."
Training continues despite all that life throws at Johnston. To add to that, the archery team is self funded. So, Johnston has been simultaneously fundraising. Because what it means to represent the country, is rooted in her history.
“My dad is a combat wounded, drafted, Vietnam vet. My master’s is in public administration. So, my patriotism and my love of the country goes very, very deep,” said Johnston.
Johnston is about $1,300 short of her goal to pay for all expenses for the tournamnet. To help you can find her GoFundMe page here.
You can keep up with Johnston's journey on her Facebook page.
World championships will be held Sept. 5 to Sept. 10. There are four different divisions athletes can compete in, separate competitions for men and women.
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