The lesser known sport... Our founding sport: a look at the SLC equestrian team

On Tuesdays and Fridays early in the morning in Andrews parking lot, athletes clad in knee-high leather boots and breeches convene to participate in the oldest, founding sport of our college. “Aggh! My boots are so tight!” said one of them as she barely made it to the meeting point, falling over as she tried to sit down.

“You have to break them in!” another reminded her.

“Breaking in new boots is the worst!”

The equestrian team, which consists of only three riders this year, Victoria Zawadzki (‘15), Camille Palladino (‘17), and Miko Tiu-Laurel (‘18), piled into a van driven by their coach, Lori Rakoczy. They drove just about ten minutes away to the Equestrian Center at Lakeview Farm to practice horseback riding. The strikingly low number of participants this year seemed to reflect some candid impressions of the team, received from various individuals around campus: “What does equestrian mean?” asked Amanda Lau (‘17); “Wow! We have a horse riding team! I didn’t know that!” said Bryn Bogart (‘15).

  Commenting on the low turnout coach Rakoczy explained, “This is my 18th year coaching and for a long time we had a roster of like 13-15 people...I’ve lost a few graduating seniors, I’ve got two members abroad, and a few that just didn’t come back this year.”

Horseback riding can seem somewhat arcane to those who are not somehow involved in it.  Coach Rakoczy said, “You don’t just sit there, you use so much of your core, you’ve got to stay on the horse while also keeping proper form...It’s great for physical therapy because of how riders have to use every muscle on their body.”

The team warmed up with some sitting trots around the riding hall as coach Rakoczy stood at the center directing them, telling one of the riders,“I want to see you stretch your leg more! You got stuck with your leg up at that last show,” filling the building with her voice. They broke for a moment and then moved onto some cantering around the hall as she continued to direct them, “Remember: form affects function! Your stance on horses affects how the horse moves and thinks.”

Eventually they worked up to cantering through an obstacle course made up of cross-bars and various vertical bars.“Different people get along with different horses...every horse responds to riders differently,” explained Rakoczy. She looked over to a rider whose horse was trying to knock him off and shouted, “[The horse] starts out cranky and resisting! He’ll test you and try to get you off him.”

“It’s a bit different from other sports like soccer and basketball,” Rakoczy explained, “it’s a performance […] At shows, riders have to exhibit proper form which, by extension, allows them to exhibit proper function in riding […] they have to make everything look effortless when going through the course... a judge gives them points and this decides who wins.”

Rakoczy expressed great confidence in the abilities of Zawadzki, Palladino, and Tiu-Laurel to succeed in future competitions. “There are around 400 plus schools with equestrian teams; we used to regularly compete with national champions…We were the only team to beat them in three years,” she explained. “I think that they’ll all reach regional championships, I know Victoria will from the points she’s received from previous shows...the real goal would be for them to qualify for national championship.”

by Anthony Magana '17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

SLC Women's tennis team destroys Bard

Last Sunday, on a warm, clear afternoon, the sound of tennis balls slapping acrylic hard courts under the shady forested region behind Andrew’s court could be heard as the women’s tennis team prepared for their 9th game of the season against Bard College. The match began with two simultaneous double’s games. Juliet Slade ‘17 and Autumn Atkinson ‘16 were teamed up to play on the elevated court while Sarah Pyatt ‘17 and Sophia Reh ‘18. teamed at the lower courts nearby.

Both of the doubles sets steadily rose in consecutive game wins until SLC had won the first two sets with scores of 8-0 in under 50 minutes. Bard seemed to be insufficiently warmed up as many of their players continuously made errors throughout the whole match.

The last tense game of one of the first double’s set ended with a series of fudged serves from Bard. Though they managed to use their last serve to get the ball into a valid section of the court Slade deflected it deftly back into their court with a well placed, game ending volley. Meanwhile in the lower courts, Reh and Pyatt had just won another game.                    

After a short intermission players split up into 3 singles games. The elevated court saw Atkinson playing her singles game. On the lower courts Slade and Pyatt played their own singles games. The games got tenser now in singles as each player held domain over the entirety of their half court and things started to warm up as they ran back and forth deflecting shots. Bard’s players seemed to gain some degree of confidence and control as their number of errors began to decrease slightly and they began to volley back a lot more than they had been earlier in the match. Down in the lower courts our player’s kept a firm hold, staying in the lead despite Bard’s slight advances.

Up in the elevated courts, Atkin’s talent as a player began to show in her singles match. She seemed to hold consistent and strong control over the trajectory of the ball almost every time it entered her half of the court. She remained energetic and confident as she carried herself through the whole game without losing a single point to her opponent. Near the end of her singles game she entered a skirmish of high speed back and forth, swiftly meeting the ball before it even gets a chance to move very far. Finally, she finished her opponent off with a strong, well spun forehand which sent a round green blur into the far right corner of her opponent's box.

Meanwhile down in the lower courts Bard’s players seemed to be standing more of a chance as they stretch the length of each game with long sessions of errorless volleying. Soon enough, Reh and Pyatt indeed prevailed over their opponents with scores of 8-2 and 8-0 respectively.

Slade played the final game on the elevated courts. She played deftly and without difficulty for the most part as her opponent made error after error. It was her opponents first game and many a serve thudded at the net. Though, near the end, Slade began to tire and lost 2 points to the Bard player. Eventually Slade indeed won the match winning game with a score of 8-2.

 The Women’s tennis team faces St. Joseph’s this Saturday, October 4th, at 1 p.m.

        

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.