Equestrian team inactive for semester, hopes to return in Fall

By Mark Rossman, Sports Editor

The F&M co-ed equestrian team has faced trying times over the past few weeks. Earlier this week, the team officially became inactive for the semester.

In a surprising turn of events for the team, the Board of Trustees at Linden Hall Girls College Preparatory School in Lititz, Penn., where the F&M team was practicing, met and ruled that the school cannot accommodate the team.

“It was obviously a shame that we couldn’t ride at Linden Hall,” said Kat Torsiello ’16, co-captain of the F&M equestrian team. “It is a great facility with nice horses. We’re understanding of why they couldn’t take on the F&M team though. It is also hard when two schools are trying to figure out liabilities while working on the

contract.”

Linden Hall was where F&M is supposed to ride and take lessons, and without a place to ride the team cannot take lessons, and — according to rules set by the IHSA — one cannot show in a competition if he or she has not had a lesson the week of the show. For F&M, this means no more competing — at least for the time being.

The decision, however, has left the team with some very unfortunate consequences.

“It’s really disappointing for the team, especially the seniors, because a lot of them qualified for Regionals and and now can’t go because we don’t have place for lessons,” said Nora Van Veen ’16, co-captain of the F&M equestrian team.

The team had been practicing one or two times a week at Flintrock Stables in Lititz, Penn. with Coach Erika Kurtz. Unfortunately Kurtz was hired by the barn at Linden Hall and will no longer be coaching the F&M team.

Currently, the team is trying to find both a new coach and a new place to ride next semester.

“We’re looking into other barns in the area,” Torsiello said. “It’s hard because it’s mostly farmland in the surrounding area, and some of the barns are private barns for clients with their own horses, instead of school horses.”

“We’re working hard to bring the team back together next semester,” Van Veen said. “We’re hoping the team can stick together and come back stronger than ever.”

Prior to losing both its barn and its coach, the F&M equestrian team was extremely successful. The team was 30 members strong, with 15 of its team competing in major shows and competitions this past Fall.

“The team did so well last semester,” Torsiello said. “We’ve really grown in the past few years, and we’ve gotten more competitive. We were technically High Point team at a horse show and were given Reserve High Point Team. We had numerous times when a team member was High Point Rider. For such a small team compared to other schools in our region, we did exceptionally well.”

The team is always looking for new people to join. In fact, much of the team walks on and tries the sport for the first time in college.

“You don’t need experience,” Van Veen said.

Max Sechzer ’14, in fact, picked up the sport when looking for something new his first year at the College.

“I joined because I didn’t really do anything athletic in high school,” Sechzer said. “I came here and thought it would be cool, and I thought I was going to just do it as practice, but then I really liked it and started

showing.”

Years later, Sechzer was named co-captain of the team the Spring of his sophomore year.

Despite all the troubles the team has been going through in the past few weeks, the team looks forward to the Fall season with — hopefully — a new barn and a new coach to work with.

“Our current situation is just a bump in the road, not a dead end. Next year we’re hoping to start back up where we left off — on a strong note,” Torsiello said. “I have faith that we’ll find a permanent home for the team. In the meantime, it’s just about finding the right place.”

Senior Mark Rossman is the Sports Editor. His email is mrossman@fandm.edu.

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