For the first time, one coach and one parent were honored for their outstanding effort, passion and good sportsmanship at the 2015 Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Hunt Seat National Finals recently held in Wellington, Florida.
Practicing good sportsmanship is a tenant of the IEA and held to the highest regard. From the beginning of the season, the IEA planned to present a Coach Sportsmanship Award. A Parent Sportsmanship Award was an on-the-spot decision because of the outstanding enthusiasm shown by one parent. Both of these awards will now be presented annually.
Katie Schaaf, coach of North Gate Equestrian in Sudbury, Massachusetts, earned the prestigious 2015 Coach Sportsmanship Award. The IEA believes sportsmanship is something that starts at the coach level and then that trait is passed on to their riders. As an example, Schaaf's rider, Kate Coffey, appropriately won the 2015 Rider Sportsmanship Award at these Finals. It is a "streak" because another of Schaaf's riders, Sylar Laakso, won the 2014 Sportsmanship Award. Schaaf and her team arrived early to Florida to help with the set-up of the show and the schooling of the horses. Schaaf also encouraged her riders to go help with the chores in the barn. This was Schaaf's fourth Hunt Seat National Finals that she voluntarily assisted in staging the show and always with a smile and a great attitude.
Sportsmanship among parents is also paramount in setting a good example for the IEA young equestrians. Greg Kelley, of Full Moon Farm in Finksburg, Massachusetts, warranted the Parent Sportsmanship Award for his outstanding enthusiasm and hard work during the 2015 Hunt Seat National Finals. Kelley truly embodies the spirit of the IEA by cheering on all riders, not just his own team. Kelley was constantly assisting at the show by holding horses or helping at the awards table. He never sat down, but instead was constantly supportive of all the work that the IEA staff did to put on the event and enthusiastically pitched in to help with any task.
The IEA also gave out a daily sportsmanship award to riders who showed acts of sportsmanship and Kelley's daughter, Alyssa, was an obvious choice for this recognition. "Like father, like daughter," said Roxane Lawrence, IEA co-founder and executive director. "The IEA is a large community and its continued success is based on coaches, parents and riders who work together for the betterment of the organization."
Founded in 2002, the IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students. Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, and 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. Unique to the IEA-there is no need to own a horse. Mounts and tack are supplied to each rider at every IEA event. The IEA currently has over 11,000 participants, ages 11-19, across the United States. For additional information, please visit the IEA website at www.rideiea.org.