From ‘Wii Sports’ To The Olympics; Archer Trenton Cowles Might Be On Just That Path
by Bob Reinert
Trenton Cowles always dreamed of one day participating in the Olympic Games, and the sport he began virtually may one day soon make that his reality.
Cowles’ introduction to archery began more than a decade ago on the video game, “Wii Sports Resort.” He was so good that he wanted to try the sport in real life.
“So, then I built my first bow while on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park,” said Cowles, “out of just a whittled stick and some bungie cords and some whittled arrows.”
When his family returned home to Tarzana, California, he enrolled in free archery classes. After six months of classes, Cowles’ grandfather bought him his first bow when he was 10 years old.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to be really easy when I started. It was definitely not,” Cowles recalled. “But I am very competitive by nature, so I was determined to get as good as I possibly could be.”
Cowles couldn’t have imagined that 11 years later at age 21, he would be on the verge of making his first U.S. Olympic team. Yet, the Texas A&M University senior currently ranks second in the men’s recurve standings following the second stage of the U.S. trials process for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
“I feel pretty good,” Cowles said. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like I shot that well, but I shot better than everyone else. I know I could have shot better. And that gives me even more confidence knowing that I have more potential and (am) still in second.”
Cowles is in a much better frame of mind than he was during the Olympic trials for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021, when he failed to make the U.S. team.
“I changed my mindset,” he said. “I really focused on getting a mental routine, making sure I think the same thing. This Olympic trials process … I’ve just felt … a lot more mature, a lot more stable and trusting.
“I’ve gone through the Olympic trials process before. I know what I did wrong last time. I know I have the skill to make the team. I have a lot of … confidence boosters helping me, pushing me forward. Instead of putting pressure on myself, I’m using that to actually push me forward.”
The lefthanded Cowles had given an indication of his vast potential when he won the gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I went in knowing I could win, but I kind of put no expectations on myself because I was honestly there for fun,” Cowles said. “When I got to the Games, I qualified kind of middle of the pack. And then I just shot my heart out during the matches. And I did not lose a single set, and I did not shoot lower than a 28 out of 30.”
Cowles called that performance “almost like a double-edge sword. Now I knew I was good enough to make the Olympic team for 2020, and that was my next goal. I just put an insurmountable amount of pressure on myself.”
His new approach has taken the pressure off Cowles, who is currently preparing for the Pan Am Games, which starts for him on Nov. 1 in Santiago, Chile. He won a pair of gold medals at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games in 2021.
“I’m looking to continue that streak and get gold there (in Chile),” he said. “I’ve been shooting well enough to. I’ve been putting in the hard work for it.”
At Texas A&M, Cowles — who carries a 3.6 grade-point average as a manufacturing and mechanical engineering major — is part of an archery program that has won 22 national collegiate championships.
“Being a university student and top athlete is 100 percent possible,” he said. “We train multiple times a week together. We just push each other forward, and we all are trying to elevate our scores to be able to make that (Olympic) team.”
Cowles also credits his grandparents with helping make his Olympic dream reachable.
“They’ve gone to pretty much every single tournament that I’ve gone to,” he said. “They’re the ones who used to take me to the range, back and forth, because my parents were with my other four siblings and their sporting events.”
His grandmother is known for making smoothies for Cowles at archery competitions.
“There’s two different smoothies she makes,” he said. “I don’t like to snack because my fingers get sticky. So, I just like to drink the shake, keep energized that way.”
With any luck, his grandmother would have to carry her blenders to Paris next summer.
“It’s set in stone, and it’s working well right now,” said Cowles of their routine. “We need to get those Olympic spots for Team USA, and if I keep doing my job, I should be pretty well (set to make) the team.”