EQ Blog: Catching Up With TCU Women's Equestrian
FORT WORTH, Texas - Senior Victoria Lee will sit down with fans throughout the school year to discuss the newest happenings within the TCU equestrian program.
Lee, who captured two MVP accolades last season, represented TCU halfway through the year at the Second Annual Winter Equestrian Festivals Equitation Challenge in West Palm Beach, Fla., which featured sixteen of the top-collegiate riders from across the United States.
Lee's EQ Blog No. 5
For the last two weeks, we have been working really hard to get both our riders and horses ready for the tournament in Waco. We have been pushing our horses and ourselves to the limit, while practicing things that are very difficult. That has made us better every day. Coach Fiorentino has constantly been telling us that there is nothing we will see at the tournament that will be harder than what we are practicing.
The championships are different from regular-season competition in the sense that riders draw from a pool of horses instead of horses from just one team. In a regular season competition, the home team provides horses to minimize travel time and costs.
At nationals, teams from all over the country bring horses and a selection committee decides which ones are best suited for the tournament. There are four rounds in the single-elimination tournament, so over 200 horses are needed to make it run smoothly for three days.
It was extremely bittersweet to think that this was the last week of regular-season practice in my college career. I remember driving home from my first practice and being so excited that this new chapter of my life was about to unfold. It's crazy to think that this chapter is ending and a new one is about to start. It is both scary and exciting to be going out into the real world, but I know that God has bigger and better things planned for my life. There are a lot of changes headed my way and I am trying to face them head on and embrace them.
I think that my experiences on the team have helped me grow into a person who is ready to face these changes and excel. When riding a horse, you cannot be timid and ride defensively, you have to embrace the forward motion and just go with it. I am trying to embrace the forward motion of my life and make it work to my advantage. All of these changes are approaching very quickly, but the National Championships are approaching even faster. We left Tuesday for Waco and start competition at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning.
We are the true "UNDERFROG" going into the competition next week, but I am determined to graduate with that National Championship ring on my finger.
Lee's EQ Blog No. 4
The beginning of this semester is bittersweet for me personally because this will be my last semester on the TCU equestrian team and as a TCU Student. This team has given me so much over the last four years. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and I have grown so much from the experience. The opportunity to be an NCAA Division I student-athlete is one that relatively few people get and I consider myself lucky to be among them.
I know that TCU was a part of God's plan for me and to see his plan realized in ways that I never even thought possible is truly amazing. When I came to campus and met the academic athletic staff and the coaches, I began to like the school. That night, I stayed in the dorms with some of the girls on the team and that is what changed my mind. I knew I had found the "natural fit."
That one night changed my life. Two years later, my dad chose to take a job in Dallas over Scottsdale, Ariz. Six months after that, when my family's house caught fire, my mom and sister moved here as well, allowing my dad to stop commuting home every weekend. Now, I can't imagine myself and my family anywhere but DFW and I know that God led me to TCU.
Now that this chapter of my life is coming to a close, I am starting to look to the next. I definitely want to stay in the Metroplex and I am hoping to get a job working in social media and public relations. My internship with Justin Boots over the last six months has really invigorated my love for this field and I hope to build a career with one of the many equestrian-based companies in the area.
I am excited to see what God has in store for the future, both in my life and also for the TCU equestrian team. The school's move to the Big 12 Conference is a huge step for the team because there will be a conference championship and many other exciting opportunities. Before any of that happens though, we have a tough competition schedule to get through this semester and the National Championships, which are always tough. We face the top-12 teams in the country over three days. I am so excited to see this team realize its full potential and to finally get a championship ring!
Lee's EQ Blog No. 3
It was so fun to have that support at both of our home games, it really helped us get pumped up for the competition. For more information on how you can join the TCU Equestrian Booster Club, email Coach Fiorentino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After our tough loss in the tiebreaker at Texas A&M, we were really excited to have games at home. While every sport has a home team advantage of sorts, it is really exaggerated in Varsity Equestrian. Not only are we more comfortable in our own facilities and encouraged by the added support from our own fans, but in Varsity Equestrian you also get to ride a familiar horse. When we compete, we get to ride a horse for a timed four minute warm-up and we can jump four jumps.
Every one of our competitions so far this year have been away, so our freshmen class got thrown into competing. We were excited to have the opportunity to compete at home and have that added sense of confidence that comes with riding our own horses that we ride in practice every day. Also, the girls who have not been able to travel with the team yet have not been able to experience a competition this year, so it was really fun to have us all together as one team competing.
Our competition against Oklahoma State was a tough one. They were ranked No. 5 going into the weekend, so this was a great win for the team. It was a hard fought game and exciting to see all the parts fall into place. We have had quite a transition semester, having lost an instrumental senior class as well as getting a new coach. We rode to our potential and were able to down the Cowgirls on the Hunt Seat side, 7-3.
We have set a goal for ourselves to get a buy into the second round of the National Championship bracket, which in turn would help us make it farther into the tournament than we ever have. The top four teams in the country get the buys, so they automatically advance to the second round without having to compete in the first round. Therefore, a win against the Cowgirls was crucial in setting us up to be in the top four teams when the National Championships roll around in April.
Now, we start our off-season. We will continue to workout at 6 a.m. on Tuesday's and Thursday's. We will still have the opportunity to go ride when we have the time, but the coaches have given us this time to recuperate and focus on our studies. Those girls who have traveled this semester have missed a lot of class, so the extra time on our hands will definitely be put to good use.
The spring semester for me is a bittersweet one. I am a senior and it is insane to think that I am entering my last semester on this amazing team. I am so excited for the competitions that lay ahead because we get to face several of the teams that we lost to again. Now that we have really hit our stride, I know that we can beat these top teams. I am excited to see where that lands us going into the National Championships.
I do not want my experience on the team to come to an end. These last four years have been so amazing and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to compete not only on an NCAA team, but to be on this team. I know that we have something special that so many teams around the country lack. We are truly best friends and we have cohesiveness between the Hunt Seat and Western teams that I have not seen anywhere else. Hearing all of the exciting things that are coming next year with the move to the Big 12, it makes me sad to think that I will not be here to experience it. I am also looking forward to moving on to the next chapter in my life.
The TCU equestrian team is always looking for more horse donations, especially for horses able to jump 3'-3'6". If you know of a horse you think might make a good Horned Frog, please email Coach Logan Fiorentino at email@example.com.
Lee's EQ Blog No. 2
So, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. We have set up a lot of our philanthropy projects for the year and we have established our booster club, which is so exciting. We love having the support at our games. It really helps us get pumped up for the competition that day. For more information on how you can join the TCU Equestrian Booster Club and get some cool benefits, email Coach Fiorentino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last weekend, we had our first competition against SMU, which didn't go quite how we wanted, but we are excited to get back in the saddle (no pun intended) and compete again this weekend.
We have what is arguably our biggest trip of the year this weekend. We compete against the University of South Carolina on Friday and then Auburn on Saturday. From the Hunt Seat part of the team's perspective, these are two teams that have been in the top three or four teams in the nation for the last several years. Because we are facing both of these teams this weekend, this trip could anchor our national standings for the rest of the year.
We have set a goal for ourselves to get a buy into the second round of the National Championship bracket and in turn make it farther in the tournament than we ever have. The top four teams in the country get the buys, so they automatically advance to the second round without competing in the first round. Therefore, this weekend's competitions are crucial in setting us up to be in the top four teams when the National Championships roll around in April.
We have been working really hard and we know we can beat both of these teams. We will have to be on our A game, but we have the talent to do so. If our team focuses this weekend, we have the potential to beat these top-ranked teams because we have several strong upperclassmen as well as a talented freshman class. There have been many changes this year, but our team is adapting well and is getting stronger every day, both on and off a horse.
I am also really excited about this first overnight trip of the year because these trips are a great bonding experience for the girls lucky enough to go. It is a small group because traveling is expensive, so these girls really get to know each other and it is a really rewarding experience. This will be the first overnight trip for the new girls, so we are excited to get to know them better and to spend some time with our western team counterparts.
Below is Lee's first blog of the season.
So the team survived the first week of workouts and practice. Things began a little chaotic, but definitely ended on a strong note.
Going into your first workout with a new strength coach can be difficult and many of us were wary of what was to come. We were all sore from doing squats the day before and really didn't know what to expect. After meeting Tyler at the indoor complex, we waited for the lights to come on, but to no avail. The only light we had was the small sliver coming from the equipment storage room, which was hardly enough for 45 girls to exercise. We then decided as a group to go outside and workout in the semi-daylight on the practice fields. We were about to get started when there was a flash of lightning. We obviously couldn't stay outside, so we adapted the workout and exercised in the small amount of light we had inside.
That afternoon was our first practice. I was a little nervous because I knew Logan would be tough, but I was excited about the new opportunity that was given to us. I know our team has a lot of untapped potential and we just need someone to help us focus that potential and talent into winning a National Championship. Logan has been that someone.
Coming from a multi-time National Championship team, she knows how to win as both a student athlete and coach. The first practice was mostly basics like getting our horses back into shape by walking, trotting and cantering. Without this, being effective at the jumps is nearly impossible. It is said that jumping is just flatwork with fences in between, so as a team we worked on getting our flatwork to a higher standard, which will help in both Hunt Seat events. Logan definitely made us work hard and she expects nothing but our best the entire practice. It is definitely working. Our horses are already doing drastically better after just one week of practice. Next week we will start working towards our first competition against SMU on Sept. 23.
I am really looking forward to this year. Our higher standards and expectations will benefit the whole team and will bring the entire team up to par with those that have been winning nationally. We have set lofty goals for ourselves, but with our talent and leadership they are definitely attainable. As a senior, it is bittersweet knowing that this is my last year and my last chance to compete with this incredible team. I am so excited for our competitions to start and for this team to start winning!
I hope you enjoyed reading my first of many blogs throughout the season. Hopefully, you will continue to read them on GoFrogs.com.