Equestrian experiences new coaching changes

Lucas Smith

Lucas SmithSportswriter

New equestrian coach Joe Humphrey steps in after Megan McGee, former equestrian coach, accepted a job with the World Equestrian Games in August.

The Jacks lost five-year equestrian coach Megan McGee in August just before the season started.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time. How will the team fare this year?

Enter interim head coach Josh Humphrey and a host of assistant coaches along with a slue of talented riders. The Jacks are not looking back.

“It’s a setback to some degree when you lose a coach of her caliber, but we are moving forward.” Humphrey said. “The assistant coaches did an outstanding job in playing catch up with some issues.”

With the season well under way, the change of coaches has been a fairly simple one.

Humphrey has been with the team since its inaugural season in 2005 and is prime for the head-coaching job.

“He’s a familiar face and he’s done a great job. It made the transition easy,” junior Megan Schiferl said.

The Jacks are also looking forward to the entrance of the new English discipline coach Leigh Nichols, who arrives this week. Nichols was the head coach of Delaware State last year and will bring a boost to the team.

“We are all very excited to meet coach Nichols and to see how she can refresh the team,” Schiferl said.

The team (0-3) started out this season on the road against some tough competition in South Carolina, Kansas State and Auburn. These three schools won various events last year at the Varsity Nationals.

Last weeks event in South Carolina showed signs of progress.

“We competed successfully throughout the weekend and got better with each ride,” Humphrey said. Three Jacks riders took home MVP honors in South Carolina, not enough to obtain victory.

The schedule does not get any easier as they travel to River Falls, Wisconsin this weekend to compete in the IHSA Western event. The Jacks will take 14 riders in hopes of capturing their first victory of the season.

In addition to having 48 riders on the roster, the team also carries 40 horses in the stables. Luckily for the Jacks, coach Humphrey is a well-organized machine.

“Structure and organization is an important factor,” Humphrey said.

With the first win of the year eluding the Jacks, the team remains optimistic.

“We need to focus on building confidence and team chemistry,” Schiferl said. “Team stability is an important factor for the Jacks this year.

The team hopes to contend in the Varsity National event at the end of the season in Lexington, Ky. The event is the Super Bowl of the Equestrian world and does not begin until May 5.

“Effort has been outstanding. We have a good foundation to build on and it will help us compete this year,” Humphrey said. “We need to continue to ride in the moment.”

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