CHUGIAK — Wyatt Anderson, a Colony High School 2019 graduate, recently received a $20,000 per year scholarship to Hastings College in Nebraska for his strong character on top of his proficient range shooting skills and dedication to the sport.
“It could not happen to a more deserving guy,” said Anderson’s first coach and proud mentor, Neil Moss.
Surrounded by family, friends and mentors, Anderson signed his enrollment form at his home range, the Birchwood Recreation and Shooting Park on June 15. The offer came after Hastings coach Jeffrey Proctor asked Anderson’s coaches about Anderson’s character.
Anderson said that at first, he thought it might be a hoax, a scam. He laughed and said that he’s glad it was real and he’s thankful for the opportunity. He thanked all the people that guided and supported him throughout the years. Then they all shot clay pigeons together.
His mother, Angie Anderson, was elated to see her son take the first step to into adulthood backed with recognition and financial support for all his efforts leading to this point. Anderson is set to join the college team with the promise of a handful of grants and scholarships to supplement the balance of the tuition after he’s enrolled.
“It’s amazing… It’s so terrific to see him be given an opportunity that I know he’ll make the most of,” Angie said.
Anderson said that he grew up shooting and hunted on a regular basis with his father, Jeff Anderson. He said that’s part of why he started shooting competitively, to get more ducks on his father-son hunting trips. He started in fifth grade and hasn’t stopped since.
“I just kept working on it then eventually, it was a part of who I was. I don’t think I could ever walk away from it now,” Anderson said.
Angie said that her son has always been a hard worker that went above and beyond. Nothing has stopped Anderson from his sport, not even medical challenges.
He’s had issues with his spine, having to undergo surgeries and rehabilitation for scoliosis and Sherman’s Disease. They completely dismantled his spine and put in stainless steel and titanium rods. He overcame all of that and didn’t falter from his path.
“He’s a pretty terrific kid. He’s not just a good shooter and a good athlete, but he’s a good person, you know? He’s going to be a good leader someday,” Angie said.
After his surgeries, he had to start from scratch with his shooting. He said that it was frustrating but he pushed through to get back to where he was. He did and he’s always working to improve and be the best he can be. He said he learned some important lessons after overcoming adversity and refusing to give up.
“It teaches you patience and diligence. In the end it’s worth it. It sounds cheesy but hard work really does pay off,” Anderson said.
Moss is the president and founder of Alaska SCTP-YESS of Alaska SCTP-YESS, a non-profit that promotes and youth shooting on a competitive and scholastic level throughout the state, providing funds purpose is to provide funds, equipment, training and guidance to Alaskan youth.
The ultimate goal is to foster character building fundamentals like self-confidence, respect, personal discipline, responsibility, teamwork, and leadership. Moss said that’s always been on full display with Anderson. In one instance, Wyatt called a foul on himself when he could’ve gotten away with it.
“You can’t coach that,” Moss said.
Instead of giving up, Anderson persevered, and took the HOA Sporting Clays Championship trophy in May and he also received the 2019 Athlete of the Year Award at the state championship in June.
He is going to study wildlife biology and eventually plans to come back to Alaska to start a career as a park ranger or perhaps as a wildlife biologist.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org