As a child, Sarah Beard would look at her father's trophies from the rifle shooting matches in which he had participated. What impressed her was the fact that they were from all around the world.
The senior member of the TCU rifle team is now building her own collection of travel memorabilia from international competitions. One destination she said she especially looks forward to is Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics.
Even though Beard’s family was into hunting, it took several years of persuading before her father let her shoot competitively.
Her father shot with the U.S. Shooting Team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and also participated in the international Army Reserve Team with Karen Monez, the TCU rifle coach.
Beard said she did not consider collegiate shooting until she first met Monez. They met the summer before Beard’s senior year of high school when she was traveling and competing.
The biology and Spanish double major came from Indiana to TCU on an ROTC scholarship and walked on to the rifle team.
“She seemed motivated, and I knew a lot about her just based upon her dad and this other coach who had been working with her,” Monez said.
Monez said that Beard’s strong academic scores got Beard academic scholarship money.
“I’m not only looking for girls that have those [shooting] scores at national levels, but I am interested in getting some walk-ons who look like they have the potential,” Monez said.
Beard achieved her goal of making every travel team during her first year. She said she put in close to the maximum number of hours every week in practice and made it to the national team by winter.
“She seemed like somebody who would have that drive and would be willing to work at it and prove their performance level,” Monez said. “After being here a while I learned she was very strong-willed and was willing to put in the time to do what was necessary.”
By the spring semester of her first year, her score was counting toward the team score, Monez said.
“It was definitely a big jump,” Beard said. “I don't think I really comprehended what it meant to win that first year [or] what an awesome team I was on.”
That was the first year the rifle team won the national championship.
Beard currently holds two national championships and said she hopes to make the 2014 world championship team and the Olympic team for Rio in 2016. Beard will move to Colorado Springs to become a resident athlete and work toward her goals and masters degree.
Beard said her rifle career has allowed her to travel, as she has competed in Germany and Mexico. She said her personal favorite was a trip to Italy.
It was her first time there, and she said she got to tour the place with a West Virginia University shooter from Italy.
“It's a unique sport in that aspect," Beard said. "Some of my best friends are from other teams."
Rifle has caused Beard to make sacrifices such as not being able to take a study abroad opportunity because of the year-long season. She said she also could not devote as much time to her studies as she wanted or get involved in many other organizations.
However, it taught Beard time management skills. She said she still manages to stay involved in other ways such as volunteering at shooting camps over the summer.
“She’s got the total package of what it takes to be an elite athlete. I don’t care what sport she would be in,” Monez said. “There are a lot of different sports she would excel in because she has what it takes to compete at an elite athlete level.”