Ellison: “Being a mother will define me, not archery”

Toja Ellison at the 2022 World Games

Despite pulling back from competition this season to focus on her young son Ty with husband Brady, Slovenian Toja Ellison has certainly made her mark in 2022 already.

World recordspersonal bests, mixed team Hyundai Archery World Cup silver and winning gold at the 2022 Indoor Archery World Series in Las Vegas are just some of her success stories in just a handful of events she has competed in this year.

This all highlights the qualities which make her, currently, the seventh-best compound woman in the world and it is no surprise that those small numbers of events have been split between her native Slovenia and her now family home, in the USA.

The 2022 World Games presents an opportunity to compete on ‘home’ soil and one the 29-year-old cannot wait for.

“It definitely feels like shooting at home although I don’t shoot for the USA,” says Ellison from Avondale Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

“It’s getting harder and harder to be in Slovenia. I have the kid and the travel itself is more difficult but we try to make it work. Me, Ty and Brady were the whole April and a little bit of May in Slovenia. It was more than a month.”

“Now I won’t be there any more this year. But I try to combine it with tournaments and see my parents as much as possible.”

Archery at the 2022 World Games

Making sure that Ty experiences the cultures and family life of both his parents’ places of birth has ensured Ellison has kept shooting competitively with some regularity.

However, splitting her time between archery and family has meant a reduced amount of appearances in 2022, a new regime she is slowly getting used to, but which has also bought about new meaning for every arrow shot.

“It’s hard, it’s not easy,” says Ellison about her new regime. “There are days that he (Ty) needs me [and] I get to shoot as much I get to shoot.”

“There is one big difference [and something] I always tried to do, but now, when I have Ty, I do it better,” she explains.

“When I step on the line, I try to do my very best with every arrow. I felt like I was doing that before but now I do that better. I know that I have 150 arrows and I need to do the best I can with 150 arrows. And there are days when I have time for [just] 30 arrows.”

“My priorities changed from archery defining me, even though it never did intentionally. When you spend so much time doing what you love, it gets more important than you want it to be. Now, the most important is Ty. He is the one that needs to be good.”

“Archery is still important and when I get to do it, I do it the best I can.”

The best. That is a phrase which can be used when talking about Ellison, who is in her final preparations for the World Games.

Compound is kicking off the archery competition but despite less action on the circuit, she has not made any significant changes, just following the mantra of many an archer: focus, relax, shoot, repeat.

“I’m just going to go on the line, stay in my bubble and do the best I can,” she said. “I’m shooting good, I’m ready and I hope it will be shown.”

“If it won’t, I go home and being a mother will define me. Not archery.”

Competition at the World Games starts with compound qualification on Wednesday morning.

Quotes courtesy Antoni Cichy.