The Daily Gamecock

Equestrian coach Major relates championship win in Q&A

NCEA Equestrian Champions South Carolina Equestrian on Saturday, April 18, 2015 in Waco, Tex.  Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics
NCEA Equestrian Champions South Carolina Equestrian on Saturday, April 18, 2015 in Waco, Tex. Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics

When the No. 3 South Carolina equestrian team topped No. 1 Georgia to win the NCEA National Championship, an already storied program became even more impressive.

The victory gave South Carolina its third ever national title and the Gamecocks’ first in over eight years.

Behind South Carolina’s sustained success is head coach Boo Major. Having just completed her 17th season as the head coach at her alma mater, Major has established herself as one of the most successful coaches at South Carolina.

The Daily Gamecock had a chance to catch up with Major and chat about how it felt to win it all again, how the Gamecocks rebounded from a rough showing at the SEC Championship and much more.

The Daily Gamecock: Has it sunk in yet? You guys being national champions, that is?

Boo Major: I think so. This was obviously a goal that we had at the beginning of the year, and we seemed to be on a good track to have a shot at it throughout the year. We knew we had a good team, but we just had to keep things together. We had a very disappointing outing at SECs, and I think that was our big wakeup call and the team really did a big turnaround mentally and attitude-wise and everything else.

TDG: What did you guys focus on in the weeks following a disappointing showing at the SEC Championship?

BM: Certainly we went in there with the intentions of winning it, but I knew it was going to be very difficult, especially at Texas A&M where we had a poor showing a couple of weeks earlier. So, we certainly went to SECs with the intention of winning, but we just got derailed on the first day. And it ended up where after that — losing again — basically we were last in the SEC Championship, when technically we were second as far as the regular season is concerned. As far as afterwards, we had some meetings the Monday after SECs to talk about what went wrong and how we’re going to fix it, and honestly the problem wasn’t with the entire team. Really, a lot of it was with the competitors, the starters. So, we really had some heart to hearts with them and then seniors got together with themselves and came up with some goals and things they wanted to do. 

As far as practice was concerned, everybody dedicated themselves to practicing and doing whatever it took to get the job done. So I think there was huge attitude adjustment, there was a huge mental adjustment and then the girls, they practice lights out all the time, so that really didn’t change much. As horrible as SECs was, it was a very, very good learning experience for our team. I think it was a good life lesson as well as a good team lesson.

TDG: What was your mindset going into your matchup with Georgia, a team that you split the regular-season series with?

BM: Yeah, it was a never look back scenario. I told the girls [Saturday night], we were in this same type of scenario last year, and I was extremely nervous going into the finals and this year I wasn’t. Certainly there are nerves and butterflies, but I don’t think they were as nervous. They just went in there and knew that they had the capability of beating Georgia, and they were going to beat them. That’s what they did, that’s what the plan was and that’s what they did.

TDG: You had three different matches in a 36-hour span. Obviously that’s just how the tournament is structured, but what’s it like going through a whirlwind of a time period without much time to reflect?

BM: It’s a long day. [Saturday] we were at the facility for, I think, 15 and a half hours from start to finish, and that’s a lot. So, I think the fact that they were able to keep the focus and stay determined, and they didn’t let themselves realize they were exhausted until we got back to to the hotel. You’re right, you don’t know have time to reflect, but we did. After every meet, we sat down and talked about it.

TDG: You’ve guys have been getting a lot of love, especially on social media. What’s it been like to have that much support?

BM: Oh my God. Everything’s blown up. I think I had 40 texts before I even got back to the hotel and emails and blowing up the social media. It really is wonderful, and it’s not just other coaches. Unfortunately, the president (Harris Pastides) called me. We were right in middle of something, and I couldn’t answer the phone and I felt really bad about that. He was even calling Charles Bloom, our associate athletics director who was down there. Of course above all, the Gamecock nation was right there with us. I can’t tell you how important it was to see on our Facebook feed people saying "Hang in there" and "got ‘em."


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