Kalakanis sees eye to bulls-eye

New head archery coach brings relatable outlook, competitive collage experience to program


Max Davis

A Texas A&M Aggie and the top U.S qualifier at the World Archery Field Championships, Nick Kalakanis has taken over for Jim DeLine as head coach of McCallum Archery. The hire allows DeLine to focus his effort on coaching younger archers at Lamar, Brentwood and Highland Park. Mac archers say they appreciate Kalakanis for his expertise and his approach to coaching.

Sophie Leung-Lieu, staff reporter

Nick Kalakanis can be identified by his signature binoculars.

The former Texas A&M Aggie and top U.S qualifier at the World Archery Field Championships has taken over for Jim DeLine as head coach of McCallum Archery.

Central Texas Archery, Mac’s archery sponsor, brought in Kalakanis so DeLine could shift his focus to the younger bows of Lamar, Brentwood and Highland Park.

The role entails more responsibility than perfecting shooting form and wrangling transportation to tournaments. Kalakanis’s top priority is to connect with his archers and expand their talent by serving as a role model.

Coach Nick views the McCallum archers shoot through his binoculars in the annual Scottie Shootout on Dec. 12. (Max Davis)

“You have to be a leader,” Kalakanis said. “You have to be able to meet people where they’re at, not only on an archery level but on a personal level. I’m not too much older than the archers, so it’s easier to make a connection. They’re very passionate and willing to try new things and get better.”

He really has a deep desire to make sure these kids achieve and do well. It’s fantastic.

— former Mac archery Coach Jim DeLine

Kalakanis utilizes his training as a competitive archer to advise the team and to understand their thought process.

“He’s an archer,” DeLine said. “He knows what they’re thinking; he knows what they’re doing; he knows the struggles; he understands the process; and he’s just really good at being able to do that.”

Archers are independent while competing, forcing them to isolate themselves from distractions and create a mental environment where they can perform their best.

To eliminate the pressure of being closely monitored by your coach during tournaments, Kalakanis utilizes his binoculars to observe them and their results from a distance.

“No matter how hard you try, when you have someone watching you who knows more than you and is judging you to some extent, it can add pressure,” Kalakanis said. “When you go to tournaments, it’s kind of the coach’s job to be more laid-back and to be there for them as a person and not there as another source of pressure.”

Nick Kalakanis and Jim DeLine award a “character counts” award at the Birds Barbershop “Make the Cut” state qualification tournament on Jan. 30. (Max Davis)

DeLine was quickly drawn to Kalakanis’s level of understanding towards the students and the sport.

“His technical expertise is second to none,” DeLine said. “His ability to troubleshoot glitches in technique is second to none, and what he’s really good at is being able to talk archers through how to fix issues.”

Senior team co-captain Garrett Michulka appreciates Kalakanis’s expertise.

“He has a lot of experience with college competitions, and he also has lots of good ideas to help us,” Michulka said. “Coach DeLine and Coach Nick are both great coaches, who assist a lot.”

I really respect what he’s doing, and he’s unbelievably genuine.

— former Mac head coach Jim DeLine

Kalakanis began archery shooting Olympic recurve archery during his sophomore year in high school. Shortly after, he was employed by Central Texas Archery to instruct archery, mostly in individual sessions.

The Olympic recurve bows are modeled more after traditional bows and vary in material, while Mac archery primarily uses Genesis bows in accordance with National Archery in the Schools Program rules. These bows are modernized, and more advanced, and are make out of metal and waxed string.

Although the equipment may be different, the basic technique and training for archers remains the same.

“When it comes to technique and performance in archery,” Kalakanis said, “there’s not much difference between a Genesis bow and a recurve bow.”

The knowledge that Kalakanis gained from learning recurve archery has influenced his approach when coaching students.

Coaches Jim DeLine and Nick Kalakanis at the Birds Barbershop State Qualification tournament on Jan. 30. (Sophie Leung-Lieu)

“In his world of recurve and Olympic archery, it’s very one-on-one. It’s probably why he’s developed that ability to talk and listen and relate to the athletes that he is working with,” DeLine said. “I really respect what he’s doing, and he’s unbelievably genuine. He really has a deep desire to make sure these kids achieve and do well. It’s fantastic.”

DeLine and Kalakanis have created a mutual trust built off of learning and collaborating with each other.

“He’s willing to learn from me and willing to have me learn from him,” Kalakanis said. “He’s very very passionate about archery, and he has a lot of experience when it comes to managing group settings.”

I want people to elevate themselves more through archery.

— Nick Kalakanis

Michulka says Kalakanis has made the team’s culture more challenging but also more rewarding.

“I like Coach Nick because of how chill he is, and strict at the same time,” Michulka said. “He has a really good balance, and he gives good support as well.”

In regards to the future of Mac archery, Kalakanis hopes to instill a mindset of collaborative competition where archers push themselves and others.

“I do know high school students are stressed, and a lot of the people in archery are in it because it’s not stressful,” Kalakanis said. “I would like for it to remain, for the most part, not super stressful, but I do want it to become more competitive. I want people to elevate themselves more through archery.”

The next opportunities for the teams to elevate their performance are the upcoming NASP state and national tournaments in March and May.

Kalakanis and some of the McCallum archers at the state qualification tournament on January 30, 2022. (Sophie Leung-Lieu)