Brandie Neal, Owen Valley High School graduate and niece to Brazil resident Betty Slack, has won the position of the only woman on the three-member U.S.A. Pan American Games skeet team.
After graduating in 1998, Neal took up the sport of competition skeet shooting after her dad and now coach, Sam Neal, requested her to do so. After sampling the growing sport craze she realized she had what it takes to be a skeet shooter, excellent hand/eye coordination. The afternoon she discovered her talent changed her life.
After trying her hand at skeet shooting she started her collegiate career at Indiana University where the interest in the sport increased from a hobby to a commitment. She says, "Actually, I wasn't really that interested at first. It took about a year to really get into it but then I spent a tremendous amount of time at the former IU range on the east side of Bloomington." Brandie is a student at IU and is working towards a degree in secondary math.
In the U.S., Brandie won the Collegiate World Championship in 1999, 2000, and 2001. She has also been the open class champion for both men and women in Indiana, Midwest open champion, and was named National Skeet Shooting Association All-American four times and is a three-time National Rifle Association All-American. Brandie has not lost a competition since August 2002.
Taking a trip to the Dominican Republic for the 2003 Pan American Games for the 2003 Pan American Games from August 2 through 12, Brandie is looking to claim a spot on the three-person U.S. Olympic team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Based on her scores in the Pan Am selection process Brandie has already qualified for eligibility in the Olympic tryouts.
The 22-year-old currently resides at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado where the Olympic trials will be held this coming fall and where she is working under the direction of Olympic Skeet Team Coach Lloyd Woodhouse.
Her schedule for 2003 includes stops in St.Louis, Spain, her current home of Colorado Springs, the Pan Am Games and Olympic Trials. This itinerary comes with a hefty price tag attached and the Olympic hopeful is looking for financial aid via the "Adopt an Athlete" program. Anyone interested in helping Brandie go for the gold can make a check payable to USA Shooting with Brandie's name in the memo section. Mail donations to Lloyd Woodhouse, USA Shooting Building, 1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80909. Donations will be used to fund Brandie's trip expenses and practice supplies.
Brandie was born in Indianapolis, lived in Martinsville until age 11, then moved to the Gosport area with her family, parents Sam and Dee, and brother, Casey. Slack says, "The whole family is very proud of her."
Tom Douglas of the Spencer Evening World contributed to this article.