By Daniel C. Houston
A donation by a member of the Baylor Board of Regents has contributed more than half of the $900,000 cost for a new equestrian building.
Baylor announced the creation of the facility for the equestrian program last week after securing a donation from Dr. Kenneth Carlile and his wife, Celia.
The 4,500-square-foot Carlile Equestrian Building — with funding donated by the Carliles, among others — will provide the six-year-old program with a locker room, a training and treatment room, offices for the coaching staff and indoor meeting areas for the team, Nancy Post, associate athletic director for business and senior woman administrator, said.
“For [the equestrian team] to look forward to the opportunity of having a locker room, that’s just tremendous,” Post said. “This building and this commitment to our equestrian program keeps us in the forefront of the sport and shows Baylor’s commitment to our athletics program.”
Groundbreaking on the project will take place following the conclusion of the equestrian competitive season in April, Post said, and the project will take six or seven months to complete.
Head equestrian coach Ellen White expressed gratitude for the donations and said they will help provide Baylor with competitive facilities.
“We’re very excited about having these facilities,” White said. “I really think it’s going to make us have the best equestrian facilities in the country … We have everything we need for us to win a national championship, and we are prepared to go do it.”
Students participating on the 80-member equestrian team, the only Baylor athletic program without its own locker room, have no convenient place to change between practice and classes, a problem this new facility is intended to rectify.
White said the new facilities will help recruit future students and encourage a stronger team identity.
“Recruits are going to come and see that we have the best facilities in the country,” White said, “and then the girls are going to have that camaraderie from having a locker room.”
The facility will be built in close proximity to the Willis Family Equestrian Center, where Baylor’s team practices and competes.
The building will also provide office space for the coaching staff, which has been operating out of a double-wide trailer near the Willis Family Equestrian Center. Prior to working out of the trailer, the coaching staff worked in a second-story office in White’s private home.
The equestrian staff — and White’s family — were forced to look elsewhere for accommodations when a tornado destroyed White’s house in April 2006. Instead of using the insurance money from the destroyed property to rent an apartment while the house was being rebuilt, White’s family moved into the trailer and allowed the coaching staff to operate out of it as well.
“We had no place to live after our house blew down so it was more economical for all involved that we just buy a trailer to live out there,” White said.
When the house was rebuilt, White’s family moved out of the trailer, but the coaching staff continued using it as an office.
Post said the university’s commitment to a new building represents an investment in the young program, which has only been competing in the Big 12 Conference and nationally since 2006.
“This gives them a locker room, a place for team bonding, something this team has never had the opportunity for before,” Post said. “It puts them on the same level as our other 18 sports.”