Jacks ‘horsing around’ in inaugural season

Tim Knutson

Tim Knutson

With SDSU’s move to Division I athletics, changes had to be made within the athletic department.

One of those changes was the creation of a brand-new sport.

SDSU is one of 22 institutions in Division I and II to offer equestrian as a varsity sport this season. The program was started to improve the female athlete population.

The equestrian team offers 15 full scholarships to females interested in competing in the two different types of equestrian competition, English and Western.

Team members will not transport their animals to competitions, but instead use horses provided at the events. Horses are drawn randomly to be fair to the riders. The team has practice facilities available to them in Brookings. The team trains at Pegasus Equestrian Center. The Swiftel Center will serve as the primary location for home competitions.

Although the program is new to SDSU, an experienced coach has signed on to get the program moving in the right direction.

Megan McGee, head of the equestrian program, has been involved with collegiate equestrian programs for years. As head coach for seven years, McGee helped develop Fresno State into one of the most successful equestrian programs in the country. She also served as an official at many competitions, including the Olympic Games.

McGee said the enthusiasm that the school and community have for the sport was one of the deciding factors in her decision to come to SDSU.

McGee said in comparison to other start-up programs she has seen throughout her years, SDSU is in an unique situation. The tools are available in Brookings for the team to become very competitive.

McGee said she is excited about showing off what the team can do at their first home competition, which takes place Oct. 23 at the Swiftel Center.

So far, McGee is happy with the progress the team is making. They have competed in three events so far, and have faced a number of good programs. She said the team has responded to the competition, and is making rapid progress.

Kelsey Likness, a sophomore rider, competes in Western reining and trails. Equestrian is one of the reasons she is here at SDSU, she said,

“I am really excited to be a part of starting this program. Being able to compete at the level that we are is really exciting, and our coaches are good at helping us learn as well as keeping it fun.”

Likness said she was excited about competing at home, because equestrian is a sport that is hard to explain. People can understand it best by watching. She is happy about the chance to show Brookings what equestrian is.