Student competes in world orienteering contest

Student competes in world orienteering contest
Posted on 09/29/2021
THS student Ben Brady
Photo courtesy of Brady family

Many travelers enjoy “getting lost” when they’re exploring a new location around the globe. For Tahoma High School student Benjamin Brady, finding his way in unfamiliar terrain is all in a day’s competition.

Brady participates in orienteering, and recently traveled to Turkey as part of the United States of America Junior Orienteering Team, to compete in the world championships.

“When the team was first announced and I found out I would be competing, I was really surprised. I didn’t think that I was at the same level competitively as the others who tried out for the team,” Brady said. “However, after showing up in Turkey, I felt less like a random outsider and more like a part of the team, and that was really great. During the competition it didn’t feel as stressful as I imagined and more like a fun experience and a chance to grow my skills.”

In Turkey, he competed in 11 team training events and seven World Championship races, including the spring, middle distance qualifier, middle distance finals, long distance forest and men’s team relay. At age 15, he was the youngest competitor in the races, with most of the athletes at about 19 or 20 years old, said Ben’s mom, Sherri Brady.

“It was an amazing experience,” Sherri said. “Seeing your child work hard toward their goals and then achieve them is super exciting. It made me so proud seeing him participate in the opening ceremony parade of countries and then giving his all every day. We knew just getting here was a huge accomplishment and the competition was intense, he learned so much that should help him level up in future years if he is able to make the team again.”

Orienteering is a sport that involves using a map, and finding checkpoints in the woods as quickly as possible. Ben Brady has participated in orienteering in the Maple Valley area for eight years, and spent the past year training and preparing for the opportunity to compete at the world level.

“The competition in Turkey was on a whole other level, something that I knew was going to be the case long before I arrived,” Ben Brady said. “In the orienteering world, the US is seen as a small and insignificant team. The European teams have been orienteering since they were kids. It's the most popular sport in some of these countries; they go to schools specifically for orienteering and train year-round, and they even have support from their Olympic committees. … Everyone on the team USA, myself included, gave it their best and came out with pretty good results.”

The local (non-district) Tahoma Orienteering Club has just begun its fall season, and has training events for students from yough through high school varsity. For more information about the club, email tahomaorienteering@gmail.com.
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