By: Ryan Sanudo
On Nov. 19, the Sacred Heart University Equestrian team finished as the High Point team, on Senior Day. The group tied for High Point in the first competition of the day, and went on to win the second competition of the day against Mt. Holyoke College by six points.
Coach Tiffany Hajdasz has a soft spot for the seniors, and knows how much it means to them.
“We played all of our seniors that day,” said Hajdasz. “Our seniors, as well as our underclassmen, were inspired to do well for each other, so they could have a lasting memory.”
The team has three days of competitions where the players are competing at different events in separate locations. Hajdasz praises the team’s resilience against unfamiliar territory.
“Every season is different, and presents a new set of challenges which can make balancing the roster challenging,” says Hajdasz. “Our student-athletes are team players and are willing to play whatever position we need, which enables us to plan our competition rosters strategically.”
Their have been obstacles for the group which senior, Kassandra Bayles, thinks the team has overcome.
“I think the toughest meet for us was the first time we had a Hunt Seat show, and a Western show, on the same day,” said Bayles. “It was hard having the team split up and down a few people.”
Unfortunately, the team has caught illnesses along the way.
“We mostly have been plagued by illnesses, and not injuries,” said Hajdasz. “The typical seasonal viruses have been prevalent amongst our student-athletes this semester. We pulled back on some of our activities to allow our players additional rest and time to recover.”
On Dec. 3, the team wrapped up their fall season. The Hunt seat squad placed third behind Fairfield and Trinity. Senior, Isabel Rodriguez, specifically pointed out that the event was a difficult task for the team.
“Our roster consists of about thirty girls, and we had three horse shows that day,” said Rodriguez. “Half of the team traveled up to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts to compete Western, while the other half hosted a Hunt seat show at home. This was especially challenging for us, because out of the 14 girls who helped to host the show, 12 of them were also showing.”
The team practices a minimum of twice-a-week, and workout three times per week. Rodriguez is impressed with her teammates motivation to practice.
“The amount of dedication that every student athlete on the equestrian team must possess, is incredible,” said Rodriguez. “But as the year goes on, all of our hard work and dedication is evident in our scores, and in the commitment shown by the team in our practices. The best feeling that you can have leaving a competition, is knowing that you did your best, no matter what color your ribbon is.”
Hajdasz and her team have set goals they hope to accomplish for the remander of the season.
“One of our team goals, is to qualify as a team for post season, in both Hunt seat and Western,” said Hajdasz. “So far our team is leading our region in both hunt seat, and western competition. We would like to lengthen our leads and ease the pressure heading into our final competitions of the regular season.”
The Pioneers will begin competing in the Spring on Feb. 3, where they will compete in a Western double header at UCONN.