E.A. Sports Today

Donoho aiming high

Falcons start county’s only high school marksmanship team

The seven shooters from Donoho's first rifle competition were (from left) HaiBing Ye, Cindy Zhou, Savannah Frickey, James Gavino, Kent Yamamuro, Tucker Sedmak and club founder Hamilton Gaines. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Gaines)

The seven shooters from Donoho’s first rifle competition were (from left) HaiBing Ye, Cindy Zhou, Savannah Frickey, James Gavino, Kent Yamamuro, Tucker Sedmak and club founder Hamilton Gaines. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Gaines)

By Brooke Brascho
For East Alabama Sports Today

Donoho added a new sport to its extensive list of activities when it became the first school in Calhoun County to offer a competitive marksmanship program.

The club was started by Hamilton Gaines, a junior at the school, as an outgrowth of his work with the Wounded Warrior Project.

The local director talked to him about starting a team at school, Gaines pitched the idea in the daily announcements at the start of the school year and the response was overwhelming. Nearly 80 students signed up initially and 33 attended the first parent meeting. Within a few months the club was meeting twice a week at the Civilian Marksmanship Program range in Anniston.

“We wanted to offer something all the kids could get involved with when they had what little downtime they had; it gives them another option,” said Jacqueline Gaines, Hamilton’s mother, a guidance counselor at the school and the club’s sponsor. “I didn’t think we would have the number we did when we first had them sign up.”

The students, from grades 7 through 12, work at their own pace and practice at whatever time they can, because most have to work around other athletic schedules. Several CMP instructors work with the Falcons’ shooters and determine when they are ready for competition.

Donoho pays a fee to the CMP for use of its facility and equipment. The only expense to the shooters is the purchase of their pellets. The school recently placed an order for 17 shooting jackets to outfit the team.

Seven shooters participated in the first monthly match in October — Gaines, Tucker Sedmak, Cindy Zhou, James Gavino, Kent Yammamuro, Savannah Frickey and HaiBing Ye. Gaines won a gold medal, Sedmak a silver and Zhou a bronze. Sedmak already has advanced to three-position competition.

The team shoots again in the Gary Anderson Invitational at the CMP’s state-of-the-art facility Dec. 5-6. Donoho officials are looking into staging a competition between the team and the faculty sometime after Christmas.

Many of Donoho’s foreign exchange students from China are very involved in the club.

“As you know, the people from my country are not allowed to own guns, so marksmanship is very attractive to me,” Ye said. “Also, I love experiencing new things in America. Shooting a gun for the first time, given the background, was tons of fun.”

Jacqueline Gaines said the club’s goal is to have at least two competitive four-shooter teams by the end of the school year and compete at a national event by next December.

“The club is an ongoing process and each week we learn more techniques with the help of our many coaches from the CMP facility,” she said. “We’re looking at this as a two-year process. We’re just in the beginning stages, but it’s going well so far.”

Donoho offers AHSAA-sponsored sports in football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, golf, tennis and track and field. The school is looking to start a mountain bike team in January.

Brooke Brascho is a junior at The Donoho School. She is the editor of the student publication, The Penfeather.



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