Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Jennifer began shooting when she was twelve years old. Her father gave everyone in the family a bow for Christmas presents. Archery quickly became a family sport; it was an activity they could enjoy together. Jennifer’s father taught everyone to shoot in their front yard. After the family heard about the local J.O.A.D. club (Junior Olympic Archery Development) they became involved there under the direction of John Wilson. There, they learned proper form, technique and the love of competition. Wilson encouraged them to attend national competitions. When Jennifer was fourteen years old, she competed in the U.S. Indoor National Championships. She didn’t place well, but she knew that she wanted to try again. After that experience, Jennifer was sure that competition was where she wanted to focus her archery interests. Upon graduating high school, Jennifer decided to pursue archery further. She hoped to someday make the U.S. Olympic Archery Team.
Jennifer and her younger sister Amanda began training with Alexander Kirillov in 2001, at the PSE manufacturing facility in Tucson, Arizona. That same year she won her first National Championship and became an honorary member of the Jr. USA Team in 2002. In 2003 she became a member of the Senior USA Team where she remains today.
2003 proved to be a big year for Jennifer. She competed and won a Silver Medal in the Indoor World Championship in France; placed 9th at the Outoor World Championships in New York City; took the Gold Medal at the U.S. Open; and won the Gold Medal at the Pan-American Games in both the individual and team events, setting two Pan-American records on the way. Returning to Europe in 2004, Jennifer won a Gold Medal at the European Grand Prix in Italy, and took 5th place at the Golden Arrow Grand Prix in Turkey.
Jennifer’s experiences built up to one of the highlights of her archery career- being a part of the U.S. Olympic Team in 2004! The young Olympian placed 9th at the Games in Athens, Greece. Her recollection of the Games can be read in her Blog.
After the Olympics, Jennifer placed 4th at the 2005 Indoor World Championships in Denmark, and 7th at the Outdoor World Championships in Spain. Additionally, Jennifer won the 2005 National Championship and was named U.S. Archery’s Female Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive year. The following year was a slow year for archery considering there were no World Championships or Olympic Games. Jennifer did however win the 2006 U.S. Open and set a new National record of 114 in a 12-arrow match.
In 2007, Jennifer competed in World Cup Events in Italy and Turkey and the World Championships in Germany (4th place). Her team spent one day at home before traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Pan-American Games where she won her second Individual Gold medal. In the process of winning, she set two Pan-American records and helped the U.S. Women’s team win the Bronze Medal. A few weeks later, the U.S. Archery team competed in Beijing, China at the Olympic Test event where they placed well with a 6th-place finish. In September of that year Jennifer won the first of three legs of Olympic Trials and continued shooting without a break through the World Ranking Event in Medijin, Colombia, where she won.
2008 produced a new set of challenges for Jennifer. She moved to Tucson, AZ in March to train for the Olympic Trials. Jennifer won both of the next two legs of the Trials but she struggled to stay focused and confident over the many months spanning the Olympic Qualification Period. Upon completing the last phase and qualifying to be a member of her second Olympic Team, she felt like she had conquered the world! It was less about winning and more about overcoming, “by the grace of God” as Jennifer puts it, months of fear and anxiety about the competition year. Persevering during that time resulted in a great sense of accomplishment for her and her career. Before traveling to Beijing for her second Olympic Games, Jennifer finished 5th at a World Cup in France. During that event Jennifer found out that her bow had started to crack. Jennifer and her coach worked furiously to set up a new bow (not an easy task) in time for Beijing. Jennifer shot the new bow at the Olympics, but had not built confidence in yet. Despite the challenge, Jennifer still performed well. She tied the Olympic record in her first match with a score of 114, but lost in her second match with a questionable score of 103, resulting in her elimination from the competition. Disappointed that she didn’t go further in the Beijing Olympics, she was also at peace realizing that God is ultimately in control of her life.
Since the Olympics, Jennifer has had many changes in her life. She was elected as the Athlete Representative to the Olympic Committee for the Sport of Archery. She also began an academic career at Texas A&M, where she is able to continue training and pursuing archery on the TAMU Archery Team. Jennifer plans to study full-time as long as she can before taking a break to train for the 2012 Olympic Games. As a U.S. Archery Team member, she is looking forward to facing the thrill and challenge of more competition and is excited about the wonderful experiences God continues to provide to her through archery.