The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), in conjunction with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), awards a student-rider the National Sportsmanship Award each year. This year's award was presented to Hannah Bentz, a high school senior from Boca Raton, Florida.
The national award winner is selected from a group of riders who earned a Sportsmanship Award at a local, regional or zone IEA show during the 2014-2015 season. These winners were then invited to submit an application for the National Sportsmanship Award. The student-riders submitted a resume, composed a 250-word essay explaining how horses and/or equestrian competition have influenced her/her life and three letters of recommendation.
Hannah Bentz, a rider on the Wall Street Farm in Boynton Beach, Florida, received a $500 scholarship from the IEA, a lifetime membership to the IEA and a nomination by the IEA to affiliate sportsmanship award programs. The IHSA awarded Bentz a keeper trophy and her name engraved on a perpetual Sportsmanship Award trophy. The IHSA also awards a scholarship to the highest placing IEA senior sportsman--also won by Bentz.
"Good sportsmanship is a very important element in the IEA. This year we had such an amazing group candidates to choose from, making the decision difficult, and yet, more rewarding for Hannah. Hannah is an outstanding equestrian and has recently been elected as the Alumni Representative for the first ever IEA Youth Board. She sets a wonderful example for the entire membership, especially since our youngest riders are 11 years old and impressionable," commented Roxane Lawrence, IEA executive director.
Of the 23 sportsmanship nominations, the top, eight winners are:
- Hannah Bentz, a senior from Boca Raton, Florida who rides at Wall Street Farm
- Seth Watkins, a junior from Cassatt, South Carolina, who rides at Central Carolina Equestrian Team-North Caroline
- Kate Coffey, a freshman from Westford, Massachusetts, who rides at North Gate Equestrian Team
- Alexandra (Ally) Vaughn, a junior from Canal Fulton, Ohio, who rides at Culver Academies
- Erin Bosse, a senior from Findlay, Ohio, who rides for KM Equestrian
- Lauren Griffin, a senior from Ball Ground, Georgia, who rides for Crooked Creek Farm
- Madison Rheinheimer, an 8th grader from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who rides for Double Deuce Farm Equestrian Team
- Meredith Hutchens, a freshman from Newport News, Virginia, who rides for HRA/Foxtail Farm.
Founded in 2002, the IEA has more than 11,000 middle and high school student-riders across the United States. The IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams. Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels. For more information, please view the IEA website at www.rideiea.org.