The Daily Gamecock

Equestrian gets top recruits

Major will look for her team to shake off some offseason rust

For any college coach, the offseason is anything but a vacation. Recruiting is in full swing and coaches still have to look after their players to make sure they will be in shape when next season rolls around.

South Carolina equestrian coach Boo Major knows the process all too well. Major, who is entering her 16th season as coach of the Gamecocks, says she and her coaching staff accomplished everything they wanted to this summer, but by that time, it was already time to start preparing for the 2013-14 season.

The offseason is also an important time for the riders, and Major said it is important for her team to practice on their own time. She said she can usually tell if someone hasn’t been practicing during the summer.

“We can’t make them ride over the summer, but we encourage them to ride, and some do and some don’t,” Major said. “It becomes evident at the beginning of the year who has and who hasn’t. Some girls have enough talent that they can get away with not riding as much over the summer, but I would say that the vast majority that don’t ride and try to improve (themselves) over the summer end up being behind.”

But the coaches don’t take any time off, either.

“A lot of what we do during the summer is play catch-up,” Major said. “We had a couple of camps that ran in May. We really don’t get any vacation time during the year.”

While Major may have not spent much time on the beach this summer, she did receive a contract extension that takes her through the 2016-17 academic year.

Major said she and Charles Bloom, USC’s senior associate athletics director, first began discussing the extension before Athletics Director Ray Tanner approved it in mid-June.

“I’m certainly most appreciated to be a part of this group,” Major said. “I think this past year with Coach Tanner has been fantastic, and I’m just looking forward to him being athletics director for many years to come.”

The new contract comes after the Gamecocks won the inaugural SEC championship last season. Major says that success plays a big role in recruiting, and over the summer, USC signed several highly touted recruits.

Major says Lisa Perri, one of the recruits who will join the team for the 2013-14 season, should immediately help out the team on the equitation on the flat side. In addition, Major and company signed Chloe Schmidt, who is the sister of current Gamecock rider Katherine Schmidt. However, Chloe broke her leg last year and is still recovering from the injury.

USC got a lot of help on the Reining team when it signed a couple of Southeastern Riders over the summer. Georgia native Makayla Clegg joins the team after being named a top-five Reining rider in the nation.

The Gamecocks also signed Kara Guertin, a South Carolina native who is also expected to compete in Reining.

While success plays a big role in recruiting, Major says she sometimes has to teach her recruits what, exactly, the SEC championship is.

“Equestrians aren’t always familiar with the SEC and football and things like that so you have to kind of educate those kids,” Major said. “But the top kids around the country are getting more familiar with what we are doing around here. Success definitely helps a lot.”

Practices for the equestrian team will start up on Monday as the Gamecocks prepare for their season opener against Kansas State on Sept. 20.

“We plan on hitting the ground running on Monday and we’ll see what we have,” Major said.