By Shannon Collins, DOD News, Defense Media Activity
/ Published June 21, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AFNS) --
Though she’s new to archery, 1st Lt. Sarah Frankosky earned a silver medal in the first-ever visually impaired archery category in the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy here.
Since June 15, about 250 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.K. armed forces have competed in shooting, archery, cycling, track and field, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. The games end June 21.
Frankosky, a personnelist assigned to Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, said she was happy to be back at West Point, since she had visited it with her grandfather, who had attended the Academy and served in the Army Air Corps. She had never shot a bow until a few months ago at the Air Force trials.
“I shot completely horrible,” she recalled. “I would be excited if I hit the arrow into my own target, much less on the paper. I think I scored two points total for the whole week. Then they brought up the visually impaired archery, and when I got here, it was the first I tried it. And I scored a million times better here, completely blind.”
During the competition, Frankosky was blindfolded and had a stand set up with a screw where she would use her knuckles to feel where she would shoot from.
Her side coach and loader, teammate Master Sgt. Zarah Hartsock, assisted her by telling her where she shot, comparing the target to a clock face, so she would know if she shot too high or low and needed to adjust.
“I was extremely excited I got Zarah’s help, because she’s very relaxed, and being with someone who’s so calm, I knew I wouldn’t get stressed,” Frankosky said. “She’s got amazing eyes. She’s an amazing archer. When I asked her and she said yes, I was so thrilled. We never practiced together before or anything. We did pretty dang good.”
Frankosky was injured in a skydiving accident during technical school. She was performing her seventh jump and using a civilian drop zone. When she landed, she hit a runway light, resulting in having double vision. “When I look at something, I’ll see two of them, one stacked on top of the other,” she explained.
She said adaptive sports have helped her in her recovery. Frankosky played volleyball in high school, and her team won the state championship. “It’s opened a lot of doors I didn’t even know were there,” she said. “It’s hard for me to play normal stand-up volleyball because of the depth perception, but by having my eye patch and doing (sitting) volleyball, I can still enjoy volleyball.”
Frankosky said the Warrior Games kept her motivated throughout the year. “It’s hard for me to get excited about working out, but knowing that I’m on a team and my teammates are depending on me to perform, it got my butt out of my home and it got me to the gym every day,” she said.
It has also been exciting to represent the Air Force during the games, she added.
“It’s exhilarating,” she said. “My commander was here the other day, and I was just so excited. That definitely gets me even more pumped up, because people at work know I’m going to be here. I know I have so many supporters at work, with my family, with my friends.”
Frankosky said she encourages others to give adaptive sports a chance.
“Just start moving,” she said. “You really don’t appreciate how great and exciting life can be until you get out of bed and you get to be a part of something. People go through the same mental and physical struggles, so just allow yourself to try and give other people a chance to take you in.
“Yes, the pressure’s on you to leave your home,” she continued, “but also give the people who are in this community the chance to accept you and give them a chance to be a part of your family and be part of your friends.”