For Sacred Heart University’s equestrian team, there are high expectations for their upcoming season.
“I think we are going to kick butt,” said junior Cecilia Mathon.
With new and different faces that bring on new and different experiences, the team is anxious to get the season going.
“I was a walk-on to the team this year and didn’t really know what to expect,” said freshman Alexis Valles. “After practicing and working hard I expect us to try our best and do what we need to do to win.”
For seniors on the team, it is their last opportunity to capitalize on the growth of the team that has taken place over the past four years.
“I’m really excited,” said senior Katherine Byrne. “It’s my last year on the team and I’ve seen the team grow tremendously from my freshman year. We’ve had so many new opportunities throughout the years and I’m really excited to see how this year plays out.”
Both seniors and underclassmen agree that the work that they have put in during the off-season has set them up for a great year.
“I have good expectations for us, I think we are going to do really, really well,” said sophomore Logan Morris. “We’re all hyped up and have a lot of great positive
With the team being diverse in age, each person on the team brings something different to the table.
Valles has never taken part in a competition before, but with the help of her team she is ready to compete. As a walk-trot rider, limited experience is required to be able to fill the point card in competition.
“Since I have been on the team, all of the girls have been mentoring me and helping me out with little pointers,” said Valles. “They’ve been really supportive and there have been times I’ve been nervous about being in my first competition and the girls have been nothing short of helpful.”
Mathon believes a mixed bag of experience can exponentially help the team achieve the goals they set forth.
“The seniors have the experience of being at so many shows and going to so many competitions so they know exactly how it is run,” said Mathon. “Juniors and sophomores have the same passion as the freshmen, but with more a little more experience which is only going to help us in the long run.”
Mathon also said the freshmen certainly add their owndynamic to their team as well.
“The freshmen bring new energy and the excitement of competing in their first competitions and it really boosts the mood of the whole team,” said Mathon.
The season began on Oct. 22, with the Pioneers winning the IHSA Hunt Seat at Connecticut College. They took away High Point Team ending with a score of 40 points, five ahead of the University of Connecticut with a score of 35.
Junior Devon Conley earned High Point Rider of the day after winning her Intermediate Flat and Intermediate Fences classes. Winning two sections qualifies a rider for a high point ride off at the end of the day.
The team is ready to take on the remainder of the season ahead with the same focus and determination as their show on Saturday.
“We’re definitely prepared,” said Mathon. “We’ve been practicing so much and been doing so many technical exercises during practice to prepare us so that when we go to the competition it’s that much easier for us.”
The student athletes expect both their English team and Western team to do well during competitions this year.
“I think both our English and Western teams are both going to represent Sacred Heart proudly,” said Morris. “We’re all extremely excited to get the season going and start competing against other schools.”
The team is excited for their home competition on Oct. 29 located in Southbury, Conn. at Rolling M Ranch.
“Teams have to come to us and ride our horses,” Bryne says, “It is kind of like home field advantage for us, no one knows our horses like we do and that will always give us an edge on our opponents.”