Above Photo: Tess Baumann giving Devon Woods a high five after competing against Auburn University.

By TPH Intern Grace Salmon

The University of Tennessee at Martin Equestrian Team is one of thirteen NCAA Division 1 Equestrian Teams in the country. We are a close-knit family. In my first week of being on the team, I knew I was making lifelong friends. I have developed close relationships with my roommates, the girl down the hall, the upperclassmen and my captains. Now only a month or so into the season, I know I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Tess Baumann riding Lucky during a horsemanship scrimmage.

We have girls from all over the country: Oregon, Florida, Indiana and everywhere in between. We are a true American team, brought together by our love for this sport.

We are also a fighting family.

In November 2014, UTM Athletic officials told the equestrian team that they would be cut from the varsity roster after the spring of 2016. The future of the team was lost and everyone was heart-broken.

Devon Woods Competing in UTM’s meet against Auburn.

It was a long and sad year and a half. With the loss of the varsity status looming, the team roster suffered and morale was low.

In a wonderful stroke of luck in May, 2016, Head Coach Meghan Cunningham Corvin was informed that the decision was reversed and the Equestrian Team would remain a varsity sport. Hunt Seat captain Monika Zoromski recalled,  “I was so nervous all day to get the call and, when I did, I just felt relieved.  I got to keep doing what I love with my favorite people. I  still have to pinch myself when I think about everything we have been through.”

This season, 21 out of the 37 team members are freshmen and transfers, so the team is quickly rebuilding. On  September 22, UTM hosted third-place Auburn University in their season opener. UTM Eq tied Auburn in the Hunt Seat, but fell to Auburn with an overall score of 13-7 by the end of the day. While the team did not secure the victory,  the determination to come out on top was ever-present.

“I feel extremely fortunate to ride for such a strong team – one that has such resilience. They have been able to rise above all the challenges and prove to those who tried to stop them that they won’t back down. They’ve fought for our team and I am excited to see what we can do this year,” says freshman Devon Woods.

Thankfully, the team has a small but strong base of upperclassmen to lead us into this season.  We also have a wonderful group of freshmen who came to Martin, Tennessee ready to give the team their all and to be its future.

The Skyhawks have a busy fall season schedule including competitions against Delaware State, TCU, Fresno State and SMU. In our hearts, we know the Skyhawks will overcome any challenges this season has to bring. Because what do Skyhawks do? We rise.

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