Local Legion Member to Represent U.S. in Australian Sports Event

Smethport Web — by Nathan Muller

Trista Brooke Byers of Statesville, North Carolina has been selected to represent the United States in the 22nd annual Down Under Sports Tournaments to be held in Australia this July. Currently a junior at West Iredell High School, Trista holds the title in cross country running for her school.

Thanks to her great grandmother Helen A. Cole of Smethport, 16-year old Trista has been a member of Bucktail Unit #138, American Legion Auxiliary, for her entire life. She is the granddaughter of Richard and Sandra Towner, former residents of Smethport and graduates of Smethport High School. Trista’s parents are Scott and Tracie Byers. Sandra and Tracie are also life long members of Unit #138.  

Helen Cole signed up Trista for junior membership in the Smethport American Legion Auxiliary Unit when she was born. “All of my female family members — my daughter Sandra Towner, grandchildren and great grandchildren — are members of our unit. Each of them has been a member their entire life. It’s just a thing my family does,” Helen explained.

In addition to preparing for her event, the strenuous cross country run, Trista is challenged to show her initiative in raising funds to make her participation possible over the 10-day stay in Australia.

The Auxiliary will honor her endeavor by holding a Sunday brunch on March 21. All proceeds of the brunch will be used to help with Trista’s expenses.

Last year, nine athletes from North Carolina went to Australia to compete in the Down Under Sports Tournaments. They not only made lasting friendships, but also competed well and all came home with hardware.

According to the event’s organizers, the annual Down Under Sports Tournaments provide a forum for athletes worldwide to compete head to head in the sport they love. The goal is to provide athletes who excel in their sport the opportunity to experience the culture, beauty and grandeur of the land Down Under — all within the framework of spirited and intense competition in many different sports.

If you would like to contribute toward Trista’s effort, you can print out this form and mail it with your check.