The parents of Katie Ezell wanted her to go to college on a shooting scholarship. So they approached Harry Flynn with American Legion Post 48 in Newton, N.C., about getting her involved in the post’s Junior Shooting Sports air rifle program. Within three years of her participation on Post 48’s team, Ezell was named the 2018 and 2019 North Carolina American Legion Air Rifle Precision State Champion, was one of 15 precision finalists to participate in The American Legion’s 2019 national air rifle tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., in July, and was a 2019 National Junior Olympic competitor in Colorado Springs.
She is now on Ohio State University’s rifle team.
“All we did is open a door to provide opportunity for athletes like Katie to go to college on a shooting scholarship,” Flynn shared with attendees of The American Legion Junior Shooting Sport Conference in Indianapolis Sept. 21. “(With all of The American Legion’s programs) we are in the youth development business. That’s what we are. We are developing youth for the future.”
Upon returning from the Legion’s national tournament in Colorado, Katie’s mother, Shari, wrote a letter of appreciation to Flynn. In part the letter read,
“It was amazing experiences, amazing talent, amazing friendships, amazing support, Katie has told me she will never forget this opportunity.
“Thank you Post 48 for all you do to support the youth in our community. Your time, effort and dedication is shaping a strong future for America. You are making a difference when our nation greatly needs it.
“Harry Flynn, a special thank you for all you do to grow the shooting sport not only in our community but our state as a whole. Katie’s success these coming years was built from a foundation set by The (American Legion) programs!”
Flynn said that for new and advanced Post 48 athletes like Katie, they will loan out the air rifle equipment instead of having athletes purchase it right away, just to make sure this is the direction they want to go in. The athlete takes the equipment home; however, the parents and athlete sign a form stating they are responsible for the equipment and any damages that occur, aside from the usual wear and tear.
Flynn concluded his remarks that in order to have a thriving American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program, you have to “set your goals, make your plan, work your plan … if you put good things into the program, you’ll get great success out of the program. That’s what we’ve done in North Carolina. We started with an empty box of nothing, we put tools in the box and good people, now we have a successful program. If you are not committed and dedicated, it will not work.”