Chula Vista: behind the scenes

In the first of an occasional series about resident athletes, Mimi Landström peeks behind the scenes at the Chula Vista archery training centre in California .

Chula Vista is the training centre that is home to USA Archery’s Resident Athlete Program, a residential facility that is designed to train the next generation of American Olympic champions. It is part of a larger campus called the Elite Athlete Training Center that trains athletes in eight different Olympic sports. 

Based in the very south of sunny California, not far from the Mexican border the USA Archery Team and squad have access to indoor and outdoor Olympic distance facilities.

It is also home to Ki Sik Lee, one of the most successful archery coaches in the world. But there are many questions around the Resident Athlete Program, how it works, how to get selected and what a typical week looks like. 

We caught up with Catalina G’Noriega, who has been touring the World Cup circuit this year as part of the USA Archery Team. Catalina demystifies what actually goes on at the centre and explains life as a Resident Athlete. 

What is it like on a day-to-day basis? Do you have a set timetable each week?

The day-to-day routine at the centre is mostly morning practice followed by lunch and afternoon practice. Thursdays and Saturdays are half-days and Sundays we have off, so we can rest, go to sports medicine, or just relax and have some free time. We also do physical training at the gym three times a week. 

Anything else is extra, like running, extra gym work, or extra shooting. We also have a set schedule for our training with scoring, time drills, and other drills. 

How did you get there? Talk us through the process of being a resident athlete. Do you have to apply? Are you picked?

The process of becoming a Resident Athlete consists basically of applying for it. There are minimum qualifying scores and other requirements to be able to apply but ultimately it is up to the coaches to choose and accept the applications for a 30-day trial and then it is up to the coaches again whether or not to accept the athlete into the program.

I actually got here a little bit differently. I started training at the centre with a club called Roadrunner and I was invited to try out by coach Woo, who was the women’s head coach at the time, I tried out and was accepted and have been in the programme since 2018. 

Can you tell us what it is like to actually live there? 

The living situation in Chula Vista is pretty good. We have suite dorms with a small kitchen area, living room, and two rooms, each with its own bathroom and with two beds each. There are four people living in each dorm.

We get breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day at the cafeteria. We have a good amount of options at each meal. At lunch and dinner there are always two protein options, one vegetarian, veggies, and a carb. There is also always a cold bar to make sandwiches and always a salad bar.

There is also always a grill option where you can order a burger or the grill special which is something different every day. For breakfast, there are also two protein options, eggs, grill options for omelettes, oatmeal, fruit, cereal, as well as other choices. 

What have you learnt since being at Chula Vista?

Since being at the centre I have learnt a lot. I moved out here when I was 15, so there were a lot of things about living alone that I had to learn. 

Ultimately for me, there was a lot of growing up and maturing that had to be done.

Being a full-time athlete and competing for the last four years has also taught me a lot about the world and how to handle myself, be mature and also stand up for myself. 

I definitely feel like being here has changed me for the better and I look forward to the rest of my time here. 

Catalina at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. Pic: World Archery

What is the best thing about being at the centre?

The best thing about being at the centre is simply being able to shoot all day every day! The convenience of living literally right next to the Easton Archery Center of Excellence
is amazing. 

And the living conditions provided to us are a huge help! It can get easy to feel burnt out by it, that’s why it is also important to take breaks and do stuff outside.

How many resident athletes are there at Chula Vista?

There are currently five girls and five guys in the programme, there used to be six spots for each but now it’s been cut down to five. 

Is it all work and no play? How do you spend your downtime?

It is definitely not all work and no play. As I mentioned before we do get a little bit of downtime and we usually either relax, hang out, watch movies, go to the beach, or do any other fun activity we can think of. 

I also do school so I spend some of my free time completing schoolwork. I really like to bake but we do not have an oven so I bought a mini muffin maker and I have made brownies, cookies, cake, muffins, and even an apple pie.

I also go with my family on the weekends since I am lucky enough that they also live in San Diego. 

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