The Unrecognized Athletes at Susky
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Many people in school are highly praised as dedicated athletes. Even though horseback riders fulfill that exact definition, they are often times not recognized as a real athlete.
Freshman Morgan Farace talks about what makes equestrians an athlete.
“We put in more effort because we try to keep the horse from not getting injured, as well as ourselves. It takes a tremendous amount of body strength to be able to control the horse,” said Farace. “We use our brains to memorize courses. We take the time to be with our animal whenever we can and ride every chance we get to make us better athletes.”
Freshman Amber McClure explains why horseback riding is a sport.
“It is a sport because you compete like any other sport, and you can win ribbons, money and prizes. You practice as much as any other athlete, if not more. You work as much as they do, and it takes as much body strength as any other sport. Plus, it’s in the Olympics, so that also makes it a sport,” said McClure.
McClure also thinks that there needs to be something at school that lets equestrians come together to share their love for the sport.
“They need to make a club, because it seems like every sport has a club, except for horseback riding,” said McClure.
Equestrians throughout the district are hoping to earn the recognition they deserve by brainstorming ideas of what they could do to represent the school. It is not exactly possible to have it be an actual school sport since live animals are involved.
Southern Middle School social studies teacher April Melato is very involved in the equestrian community and is hoping to create a way for riders to be recognized as student athletes.
“Whatever is necessary to recognize a sport as a school sport, I feel like riders could also meet those requirements or criteria, and should be recognized,” said Melato. “We could participate in a meet the team night, IEA team, lettering program, it could be a club sport, the club could participate in different fundraisers or activities, promote through social media or raise awareness around the school, year end awards… something along those lines. I think the first step is to have the school board recognize it as an official sport, or even an individual sport, but still represent the school.”
There is already a lettering program set up by the United States Equestrian Federation which allows middle and high school students to apply for a letter to put on a letter jacket, but many students do not know about it. The school also does not recognize it.
IEA stands for Interscholastic Equestrian Association, and it is a program for students from different schools to compete against each other in horse shows. This is another option for the school, but it is harder to pursue due to there not being a barn nearby with available horses.
At the middle school, there is a horse club, which is a step forward, but it needs to be expanded into the high school and focused more on the riding aspect outside of school.
Melato plans to research different ways to create some sort of club or sport recognition at our school. She has decided that the best first step in doing this is to send out a school wide survey to see how much interest there is and to gather everyone who is interested.
Melato is hoping that sometime in the near future the club or recognition program will be closer to becoming a reality.