Left to right: Rachael Byrd, Brittany Salonen and Nancy Wenande

As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work,” and three women behind the World Archery Youth Championship are hoping that helpers and volunteers assisting with this event will make it a phenomenal experience for hundreds of international athletes visiting our town in June.

The World Archery Youth Championship (WAYC) is sponsored by the National Field Archery Association Foundation (NFAAF). This outdoor tournament only comes to North America every six years; the last one in the U.S. was in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2009. They are anticipating approximately 600 youth ages 13-20 from 60 countries to visit Yankton for this tournament in June. The tournament will be held at the NFAA Easton Archery Center (NEYAC) on two of their outdoor ranges behind the facility.

Three women collaborating in efforts to make this event a huge success are Nancy

Wenande, Brittany Salonen and Rachael Byrd. Wenande, Tournament Manager, has enlisted the expertise of Salonen and Byrd, who both are full-time employees of the NEYAC.

Brittany Salonen is the WAYC Assistant Tournament Manager and will oversee many different aspects of the tournament. As the NEYAC’s NFAA Marketing Manager and Trade Show Manager, she’s put many hours into helping with large tournaments in her three years with them. Not having a previous history with archery, she began archery when she started working at the NEYAC and is now a Level 1 Instructor. Responsible for marketing, website management, social media and trade show management for the National Organization and Las Vegas tournament, Salonen brings many skills to assist in the success of the WAYC.

Rachael Byrd will serve as the VIP & Special Services Coordinator for the tournament, assuring that the prominent guests are well taken care of. Byrd became connected to the NEYAC as a Marketing Intern while she attended the University of South Dakota for Marketing. After she graduated this past December, she was hired full time as the NEYAC’s Marketing Director.

Archery isn’t a new sport to Byrd. She started bow hunting around the age of 17 primarily due to her dad’s passion for it. This last fall, Byrd shot her first deer with her bow. She recently went on an archery hunt in Texas where she shot a scimitar oryx and two rams. The World Tournament and Nationals that the NEYAC held outdoors this past summer got Byrd interested in target archery. She purchased a target bow right after the World Tournament and shot in the outdoor Target Nationals this past October for the first time.

Her first competition, she said,” It was fun; it was a really good experience.”

Nancy Wenande, the WAYC Tournament Manager, became more involved in archery once she became involved with the city of Yankton. Nancy tried archery in college and really liked it at that time, but didn’t have time to get involved with archery again until the NEYAC opened in Yankton.

“I really like shooting and I think it’s a great sport for people to get into. So many people think (archery) is only about hunting, and they need to realize that archery is so much more than that.”

Bruce Cull, NFAA President, had asked Nancy to be on a committee to help make a bid for the WAYC to be held in Yankton. Once NEYAC secured the bid, Bruce chose Nancy to be the Tournament Manager.

Another woman behind the scenes at the NEYAC is Josahan Jaime-Santa Cruz, or “Coach Jos” as she is also known. Jaime-Santa Cruz is the Coaching and Archery Programs Director for the NEYAC, which means that she supervises and coordinates all archery-related activities in the complex. She creates programs, camps, seminars, academies, and certifies and trains instructors and coaches.

Jaime-Santa Cruz has been involved in archery for 23 years. Through family activity, she started young but because of her family’s competitive nature they went that route very quickly. She was a competitive archer for six years and was a member of the Mexican national archery team. After graduating from Texas A&M on a scholarship to be on their women’s varsity team, she managed a pro-shop. Jaime-Santa Cruz, a Level 4 coach, with six years of coaching experience, was previously a member of USA Archery’s Junior Dream Team coaching staff.

The World Archery Youth Championship begins on June 6, with competitors flying in June 6 and 7. The opening ceremony will be held at the NEYAC the evening of Sunday, June 7. June 8-14 are the shooting days with the 14 reserved for finals, the closing ceremony and the final party. Competitors will either fly out on the 15 or at this time can partake in one of two tours to the Black Hills if they wish.

The primary difference between this tournament and previous tournaments held in Yankton is that this tournament is for youth only, whereas the previous tournaments have been for adults. The primary concern in hosting this youth tournament, Wenande explains, “When these teams come off the airplane, they are yours to take care of. You need to transport them everywhere, you need to feed them and you need to house them.”

Transportation and housing of these guests are already lined up. Many volunteers are needed to help with the other various aspects of the tournament and there are numerous shifts to choose from. Volunteers of all abilities are welcome and the volunteers will be assigned their tasks and offered training before the event.

Volunteers can assist with a variety of roles, including directing guests, answering questions, helping on the range, helping serve the catered meals, helping with clean-up, directing traffic for parking and assisting with the opening and closing ceremonies. Every evening holds extra events to entertain the competitors and volunteers can assist with those activities: pizza & ice cream party, swap meet with the YHS, movie night and county fair night. If you are interested in volunteering to make the event a success, go to (click the Volunteer tab located at the top of the page). The website is already available to accept volunteers. You can also volunteer by emailing or, if you don’t have computer access, calling Nancy Wenande at 660-0438.

Salonen explains that the extra evening events held for competitors are one thing setting the WAYC in Yankton apart from those hosted by larger cities in the past. “Instead of scattering with their team to different excursions, we offer entertainment here every night. The participants will interact the entire tournament. We’re trying to facilitate some bonding”

Diversity training sessions will be offered to the community before the event. The Chamber of Commerce Business Education Committee will be putting together the sessions for the community to attend, located in the Community Room at the Regional Technical Educational Center (RTEC) located at 1200 W 21st Street. According to Carmen Schramm, Executive Director of the Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce, sessions available will be:

*Tuesday, April 21: 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (health & religion)

*Tuesday, April 21: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

(retail, law enforcement and general public)

*Wednesday, April 22: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

(hotel and food services)

Salonen notes that “Volunteers will get to interact with kids and adults from all over the world. It will be a great opportunity for people who haven’t had the chance to travel to meet people from all over. Come on out and volunteer and create connections. It’s like taking a tour around the world without having to go anywhere...right in your own backyard.”

Other than conducting an amazing event, the organizers hope to accomplish several more goals from hosting this year’s WAYC. Salonen states, “If we can really nail this tournament, and give a great community welcome and put on a great tournament as a community and as a state, the opportunities to host other high level tournaments may come to us in the future. This is just one event but if we do it well and do it right, we could have many more in the future.”

Wenande hopes archery becomes promoted more. “For the state of South Dakota, archery is an important component of economic development. For the eastern side of the state, archery is a huge draw for people and the economic development opportunities are there and we need to as a state start promoting that more.”

Byrd comments to the opportunities in the sport of archery. “There are so many different types of archery. There are indoor, outdoor and there’s field ranges from 10 yards to 80 yards, and even 3-D. (People of) all different abilities can try archery. The girls’ side of archery has really grown. You don’t have to go into a competition; you can just do it for recreational purposes too. You don’t have to be a top pro to be in it.”

“It’s a good family sport,” adds Salonen. “You can all shoot together no matter what skill level you’re at.”

Jaime-Santa Cruz emphasizes that “The most important thing I want people to take away when they come across this sport is that absolutely anyone can participate. I have yet to find, see or hear of anyone that was unable to shoot an arrow into a target. Age, size, physical disability, anyone can be a great archer, it all depends on their willingness to learn and passion to improve.”

Event information leading up to the WAYC will be advertised in the Press & Dakotan, the Observer, on radio, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online at:

Help Yankton hit a bull’s-eye with this event! Come out to volunteer and show your support!!