by Anne Donofrio-Holter
Olympic double trap and skeet shooter Kim Rhode paid a visit to her alma mater, Arroyo High School, to remind students that they can do anything they set their minds to.
With her recent gold medal at the London games, Rhode has the distinction of being the only American competitor to win medals for an individual event in five consecutive Olympics. She is also one of only three athletes, and the only woman, to win three Olympic individual gold medals for shooting.
Rhode, whose parents were both shooters, began shooting targets at the age of six.
“I can remember sitting on my dad’s lap and shooting,” said Rhode, who won her first competition in American skeet at the age of 11.
“She just had the right eye-hand coordination,” said father Richard Rhode. “She was a natural.”
“Shooting teaches discipline, concentration and is very much a mental game,” said Rhode. “You learn how to be a gracious loser as well as a good winner.”
Arroyo High School administration always supported the 1997 graduate in her quest for Olympic gold, allowing flexibility in her school schedule to attend various competitions.
“But school always came first,” said Rhode, who would take her homework with her and work on it before and after competitions.
“I kept current with my class work and my grades were good,” she said.
Asked about the down side, Rhode responds, “You have to give up some things in order to earn some things. I’ve had to take time away from other activities I enjoy and concentrate on my shooting.”
Rhode told students to “have a goal and a dream,” and to share those dreams with others because they can come true.
She was then presented with a special “Golden Girl” sash and banner made by students and musical selections by the school band.
“It is so awesome what she has accomplished,” said one student. “Definitely makes me realize that my dreams can come true, too,”
“It was an honor to have five-time Olympian and Arroyo High School graduate Kim Rhode return to her alma mater and share her experiences,” said Nick Salerno, El Monte Union High School District superintendent. “I could tell by the looks on the faces of the students that she connected with them.”
Before leaving campus, Rhode posed for photos with students even allowing them to wear her Olympic medals around their neck.
“Ms. Rhode’s visit today once again is a reminder of the great students, past and present, that have come through Arroyo High School,” said principal Oscar Cisneros.
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