This anniversary celebrates CSULB’s rich and accomplished history of its archery program and Professor Mel Leach’s efforts and dedication to the program.
History of CSULB’s Archery Program
When Professor Mel Leach arrived on the campus of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in 1968, CSULB’s archery program consisted of a handful of women’s bows from the late 1940s. The Kinesiology Department, then called Physical Education, was divided into women’s and men’s classes. Archery was considered a women’s physical education class. However, Professor Leach let the men hone their archery skills on the women’s equipment. The practice range has endured multiple- and sometimes inexplainable- relocations, but mishaps were few and the program has evolved from a modest archery club into the nation’s preeminent complete collegiate archery program.
Beginning with a few classes in 1963, the CSULB program has expanded and thrived when most university archery classes and clubs struggled to survive and eventually ceased. A driving force during these times was Professor Leach. Because of her advocacy for and commitment to the program, the CSULB archery program holds the distinction of being the longest continuously functioning full collegiate archery program in the nation. The program offers everything from beginning to teacher training classes, a recreational club, and competitive team opportunities.
The archery program and Professor Leach hold numerous distinctions. The program has produced 18 All-American and countless West All-Regional archers. From 1965 to 2008, Professor Leach started the College State Outdoor and Indoor Championships, the Beach Cup and the long-running Southern California Archery Conference. During that time period, Long Beach State hosted 148 of the 237 archery competitions sanctioned by the College Division of the National Archery Association and 109 state conferences. Under Professor Leach’s coaching, over 600 students have been recruited, trained, and provided tackle in order to become members of the CSULB competitive team. Over 3,400 CSULB students have passed through her archery classes. Her work and passion have impacted the lives of thousands of students.
Professor Leach has also made vital contributions to other Southern California and western archery college programs. Schools such as CSU, Fullerton; East Los Angeles College, Cypress College, San Jose State University, San Diego State University, Fresno State University, Stanford University, Santa Barbara City College, and three Arizona community colleges, were mentored and supported by Professor Leach. From 1968 to 1972, she was heavily involved in establishing the College Division of the National Archery Association. Mel and her colleagues’ work paid off in 1972 with the formal establishment of the College Division as the legitimate national archery college competition organization. CSULB, its archery program, and the sport of archery owe Professor Mel Leach a debt of gratitude for her hard work, ceaseless efforts, and devotion to higher education and archery here at CSULB and throughout the state and nation.
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Archery 50th Anniversary
College of Health and Human Services
California State University, LongBeach
1250 Bellflower Blvd., MS5605, ET-200
Long Beach, CA 90840-5605