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High school graduates who compete in clay target leagues can now continue their sport at the college level with an opportunity to earn a scholarship at Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan.

This fall, the College will launch its new outdoor recreation and clay target program. Olivet College continues to accept students for the fall 2019 semester, and scholarships are still available for those who qualify.

The co-ed program will compete with other colleges and universities in the region during the fall and spring.

“High school clay target leagues are experiencing record-setting growth. There is a demand for alternative sporting activities related to Michigan’s long-standing outdoor traditions,” said Ryan Shockey, Olivet College athletic director. “Offering these talented student-athletes the opportunity to continue competing throughout their college career is mutually beneficial. It’s an opportunity for colleges to engage a new group of students, and it provides a no-barriers competitive outdoor sporting opportunity for men and women, as well as individuals with physical disabilities.

Competitive shooting sports programs are active in other Michigan colleges and universities and throughout the United States. And it’s growing in Michigan’s high schools. According to the Michigan State High School Clay Target League, in 2018, 975 student-athletes from 45 Michigan high school teams participated in the Michigan State High School Clay Target League. This was up from 469 students on 23 teams in 2017. Nationwide, nearly 22,000 high school student-athletes represent over 800 school-approved teams that participate in a clay target league.

Scholarship Opportunity

Student-athletes selected to be a part of the outdoor recreation and clay target program may earn a renewable Olivet College Performance and Talent Scholarship. The annual award is contingent on the student meeting and maintaining all team and academic requirements. The scholarship may be awarded in addition to other financial aid or merit scholarships students receive.

Jamie Bartley, head coach of the Olivet High Schools trap shooting team said, “I’m thrilled that Olivet College is offering high school students the opportunity to be part of a collegiate level competitive clay target league. High school competitors are true athletes and their sport, like others, builds self-confidence, patience, concentration and self-discipline. Athletes grow as leaders, become responsible citizens and make lifelong friends. And providing a Performance and Talent Scholarship is a great way to reward student’s efforts is icing on the cake.” 

High school or transfer students interested in learning more about the Olivet College outdoor recreation and clay target program and scholarship opportunities should contact the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

What is a Clay Target Program?

Dating back more than 100 years, today clay target leagues consist of four sports: trap shooting, skeet shooting, sporting clays and five-stand. Olivet College will launch as a single house trap shooting program. An event consists of shooting two 25 target rounds for a total of 50 targets. Up to five athletes occupy each station at a time.

Jackie Looser, Olivet College assistant professor of accounting and local shooting club member, says the sport requires a combination of speed, coordination and grace. “The trap house is a structure in front of the station where the competitors stand. The trap rotates in a random sequence, launching the clay targets in directions going away, angling to the right, left and flying straightaway from the competitor. It’s a sport that is not only fun, but takes much dedication, focus and practice. It’s amazing to see the talent so many Michigan high school students have in this sport. I’m excited both young men and women will have this opportunity to continue to compete with their peers at the college level.

Safety First

“As with any of our student-athletes, participation in the program will be a privilege, not a right. At all times we will expect these student-athletes to behave in an ethical, dignified and respectful manner, on and off the course,” Shockey said.

Tom Kolassa, chair of the Olivet College Board of Trustees, echoed Shockey’s comments. “The Olivet College mission speaks directly to individual and social responsibility. Competitive target leagues develop young men and women who take the responsibility for their own learning and personal development seriously. They serve as leaders and mentors to younger competitors and take great pride in caring for our environment, particularly in and around their clubs and surrounding areas. And equally important, they are mature, honest and academically strong students. I trust that these athletes will represent the high level of students we seek at Olivet College.”

Phil Reed, Olivet College director of campus safety and associate professor of criminal justice, stated that all ammunition and shotguns will be secured off campus. Student-athletes must provide their own gun and will only have access under the direct supervision of the program’s head coach. In addition, athletes will also be required to pass a firearm safety course, submit to a background check and provide a letter of recommendation from their high school club coach.

National Search Underway for Coach

Olivet College is conducting a national search for a coach that meets the College’s high standards by way of commitment and passion for the sport, strength in character and integrity, and one who leads by example. To learn more, contact Athletic Director Ryan Shockey at 269-749-7189 or rshockey@olivetcollege.edu.

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