Occupational Therapy OT

| 29 March 2024

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Bethany High Balances Olympic Dreams with Occupational Therapy Dedication

The story of Bethany High, a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) student at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), is a testament to passion, perseverance and purpose. High is pursuing dual interests – Olympic-level trap shooting aspirations and a graduate health sciences degree.

Her introduction to trap shooting began seven years ago, a pursuit sparked by a chance encounter with a family friend. “I was instantly in love with everything about shooting sports,” High says.

From her humble beginnings in 4-H, she met a coach who introduced her to Olympic Bunker Trap shooting. High attended Emmanuel College on a shooting and academic scholarship. While on the shotgun team, she catapulted into the international spotlight, clinching a gold medal at the Junior World Championships in Lima, Peru, in 2021. With steely determination and relentless enthusiasm, she is now on the cusp of securing a coveted spot on the 2024 Olympic USA Shooting Team.

USAHS Bethany-High-ot-olympic-shooter with gold medal

Olympic dreams, academic achievement

High is exceptional due to her ability to juggle Olympic ambitions and an advanced degree program. During her time at USAHS, High has integrated her rigorous studies with intensive training sessions and competitions. She credits her network’s high level of encouragement for allowing her to defy the odds and excel in both arenas.

“I have a good support system with my family and community,” High says.

Driven by a desire to make a difference in the lives of others, High set her sights on becoming an occupational therapist (OT). Inspired by her uncle’s journey, she wants to work with individuals with special needs.

She is motivated by the mental health resources the local VA Hospital has offered her father, a Veteran Marine. “I want to work at a VA Hospital. It’s inspiring to see how much the hospital has helped my dad,” High says.

Her goal is to revolutionize how athletes approach mental health and visual training. She plans to draw from her experiences with visual exercises in competitive shooting. “I’ve researched how occupational vision therapy can help athletes,” High says.

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Mastering mental fortitude

High is gearing up for the second part of the Olympic trials. When she is not studying, she trains, physically and mentally, to prepare herself for the challenges ahead.

While she practices shooting, High emphasizes the importance of mental preparation in her regimen. She dedicates time to mindfulness training and working with a sports psychologist.

With her mother doubling as her coach, they collaborate to decipher between good and bad nerves, channeling the latter into fuel for competition. High firmly believes that triumph in trap shooting is 90% mental and 10% fundamental, and she aims to maintain a clear headspace amidst the pressures of competition.

High finds solace in the encouragement she receives from her USAHS community. Initially nervous about how graduate school commitments would align with her rigorous training schedule, she has found her professors incredibly understanding. Her cohort helps her stay updated on coursework and provides invaluable encouragement, allowing her to compete confidently.

“They have had such a positive impact – they’ve been amazing, and I couldn’t ask for more,” she says.

USAHS Bethany-High-ot-olympic-shooter-practice

A persistent path to success

High remains focused on her ultimate goal of making the Olympic team. To secure a spot, shooters need a combined score from two competitions – in May 2023 in Hillsdale, Michigan, and in March 2024 in Tucson, Arizona.

If she is named one of the top six, she becomes part of the world travel team. While the pressure is undoubtedly high, she is optimistic about the future. If she falls short of securing a spot this time, she will set her sights on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“I am going to continue to strive for a goal I have been working toward,” High says.

Reflecting on her wins, High feels honored to represent the USA on the world stage as the only female trap shooter from Georgia to make the USA team. No matter the outcome, High’s path serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes everywhere.

Embracing the present and exceeding expectations

Her message is simple yet profound: Appreciate the adventure, stay focused on the present and never lose sight of your dreams. “You can do more than you think,” High says.

Regardless of what the future holds, High is ready for greatness. Whether she secures a spot on the 2024 Olympic team or sets her sights on the 2028 Games, her indomitable spirit and steadfast resolve will serve her well.

To learn more about High’s journey, read an article in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.


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