The Cornell varsity equestrian team is looking very different this year, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing according to senior co-captain Kelsey Craig.
“We have a smaller squad than we usually do so it has forced the whole team to step up more,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work for everyone, but at the same time it’s worth it for us all to pitch in and help out. It has led to a much better team rapport.”
Head coach Chris Mitchell elaborated on how the new team dynamics have had an overwhelming affect on the new-look squad.
“Last year we started to get the team back on track with a character and a culture that we like to see and that we have been working on,” Mitchell said. “This is probably one of the closest teams I’ve seen in 10 years. The whole team cares about each other; they are all so close. They are all working together and growing together.”
So far, the team has gotten off to a promising start.
“Looking at [our] roster right now, our riders are strong, strong, strong in every division. I am really exited for this year,” Mitchell said.
“We’ve only had two shows so far in our new region and we won both, so we’re expecting more of those hopefully,” added senior co-captain Georgina Melbye.
A major change this season for the equestrian team is that the Red is indeed now competing in a new region. College equestrian teams across the country are divided into zones, which are then divided into smaller regions. As equestrian continues to gain popularity, schools are opting to add an equestrian program to their athletics departments, forcing a reorganization of the zones and regions.
“We’ve moved west, so we’re competing against Buffalo, Nazareth, Alfred and Binghamton, … [but] a bunch of schools left of us as opposed to the east,” Melbye said.
As the Red competes against new teams, it gets to leave behind others that have proved to be difficult tasks in the past.
“We are no longer competing against our arch nemesis, Skidmore, who we’ve been second to forever,” Craig said. “We are out of their shadow, we can prove we are a force to be reckoned with and win the region.”
Cornell is clear about its goal for the season — win regionals and go beyond.
“Win the regional championship, that is the team goal,” Mitchell said. “Then move on to zones, then hopefully move on to championships. [Winning the regional championship] has been our No. 1 goal from day one. Everyone on the team understands that, and is looking to that. It’s all about the team, another difference about this year compared to the past.”
As Mitchell said, the whole team is on board and ready to show the new region what it is capable of.
“No. 1 win our regions, then go on to nationals as a team. We have never had the opportunity to do that so that would be really exciting,” Melbye said.
Original Author: Dani Abada