By Kamri Alexander | Reporter
Some might think Baylor equestrian is going into this year thinking about their surprising upset against the two-time defending national champion Auburn University in the quarterfinals last season, but head coach Casie Maxwell says otherwise. Last year’s win does not determine this year’s success for the team. Instead, they have the mindset to compete as though there’s always a higher goal to reach.
“They have to stay humble; they have to stay positive when they’re getting knocked down; they have to stay hungry for a win and they’ve got to do it together,” Maxwell said. “[We’ve] never arrived, [we’ve] never accomplished everything.”
Last year, the team faced a lot of adversity during the season as COVID-19 erased their sense of consistency. Coaches nor athletes could control when someone would have to abruptly quarantine or when practices and meets had to be canceled. Unlike other sports, equestrian’s equipment involves live animals who can also face complications. But through it all, the team overcame their obstacles, created a team bond and an environment of togetherness that still exists.
On top of that team bond, the team is also looking to have a sense of normalcy back. Junior western rider Gabrielle Marty said the team is excited about how a fresh start will enhance the team’s success.
“I think everyone … all teams across the country had a tough go the past year and a half, so it’s refreshing being back and having a semi-normal year,” Marty said. “We’re super excited overall and the energy is through the roof.”
While the team has gained a new jumping coach in Grace Bridges, the team and the coaches have acclimated well to new team changes and are seeing success.
“What coach Bridges brings into the arena is just outstanding and I think is really complementary and enhances what coach [Abbi] Demel and I have been doing for the past years we have been working together,” Maxwell said. “Between the win off of Auburn, and the new excitement coach Bridges is bringing to the program, I think there’s this new level of enthusiasm and positivity.”
Junior jumping seat rider Dominika Silvestri said the team has been moving at a fast pace, especially preparing new freshmen for their first competition of the season on Friday against the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“We’ve had a month of practice going into this away meet and I think we’re ready,” Silvestri said.