Athlete of the Week: Sophia Howard

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - You could say archery runs through Sophia Howard's blood.

"My dad started shooting, he shot Olympic recurve when he was younger. And then he stopped shooting and then he introduced me to shooting when I was two," Howard said.

From there he made her a bow, and when she turned 9-years-old she started competing. The challenge and success of her young career pushing her to keep going.

"When you're at a tournament and you shoot, and you shoot a really good round, you just want to keep shooting," Howard said. "When I was winning the state tournaments when I was little, it just made me want to keep doing it."

Now she's 13 and a 6-time USA National Tournament Champion – a level of success she never expected to reach in such a short amount of time.

"I just thought it was going to be a backyard sport, like I'd do it for fun when I got home from school, but it's taken me a lot of places," Howard said. "I didn't think I'd come this far at all."

But it's definitely become more than just that. And for her outdoor coach Matt Cleland, who knows how rewarding it is to make the world team, he says with a little tweaking, he has no doubt Sophia will be on a world team at some point in her career.

"My part with her has been maybe a little tweak here or there, and then we work on the mental aspects of the game mostly because she's physically got the shot," Cleland said. "I'm helping her now, but her success really is the function of the support and the people who helped her get this far."

That support stemming from two very proud parents.

"It's been amazing," said Nicole Howard, Sophia's mom. "It's been an amazing journey to watch her start from a little tiny tike to what she is today, which is a multi-national champion."

As she gets ready to enter the outdoor season, she has her sights set on making the USA World Team. Those trials are in June in Michigan.

Sophia Howard, athlete of the week.

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