The St. Olaf Equestrian Club (StoEq) opened applications for new leadership positions on Sunday, April ll. The available positions were initially lessons coordinator, treasurer, manager and events coordinator. The current co-captains decided to split the role of events coordinator into two separate positions to accommodate for the number of applications.
“Running social media and coordinating events are both important positions which require different responsibilities,” said current events coordinator Sydney Carlin ’21 in an interview. “We didn’t want to overload one person trying to juggle two roles.”
The Equestrian Club has suffered at the hands of the pandemic, especially this year. The niche sport also does not draw as much attention as more mainstream sports, which has led to low participation.
“We hope that adding more people to the leadership team will increase StoEq’s presence on campus,” said current club president Atia Cole ’21. “Equestrian sports can be really difficult physically, but also really therapeutic. It’s a sport that I believe a lot more people should get into.”
The new leadership positions were announced on Instagram and via email on April 22. Molly Prytz ’22 served as lessons coordinator for the 2020-2021 school year and will now be taking on the role of president. Esther Levit ’22 was appointed as the new lessons coordinator. She will be working alongside Emma Gambach ’23, Kate Dallmier ’23 and Samantha Maul ’22. Gambach filled the role of social media manager, Dallmier was selected for treasurer and Maul will serve as the new events coordinator.
Equestrian sports also come at a great financial cost, something that equestrians have to reckon with when they enter the sport. Fundraising for club sports has been less popular on campus during the pandemic, and the Equestrian Club has felt the impact.
“The biggest struggle we have is accessibility,” Prytz said. “Club sports like rugby, volleyball and even broomball have facilities on campus with equipment they need. We unfortunately can’t just ask the College to buy us horses and build us a facility.”
Additionally, while all sports come with inherent risks, equestrian sports see a lot more drastic injuries that can ward off participants. The wellbeing of both horse and rider can be at stake when an amateur places themselves in an unsafe situation. Additionally, there must be strict regulations in order to make sure the club has access to properly cared for horses.
“A lot more people are scared of horses than we thought,” Cole said. “We also want to make sure all of the barns we use are treating their animals exceptionally well.”
StoEq is not the only club sport to feel the effects of the pandemic and experience a lack of advertising. It raises the question of how intramural and club sports can become more accessible on campus, especially to first-year students who have not had many chances to experience new activities.
Disclaimer: Lindahl is a current member of the St. Olaf Equestrian Club.