Dad says this Trinity student wins at life through her love of horses

Trinity University equestrienne Chelsea Runacres

by Roger Runacres —

In discussions with our oldest daughter, Chelsea, about where she would like to attend college, two things kept coming up: warm climate and horse friendly. Okay, fair enough. We really couldn’t expect a sixth grader to place academics at the top of her list. As time went on, these two requirements remained very important to her, as well as educational opportunities, in selection of a college. As parents, we were committed to letting our kids make their own college decision. After all, they would be the ones attending, not us. In the end, we put our strong opinions aside and are thrilled Chelsea ultimately decided on Trinity University.

An avid equestrian by age 7, Chelsea will always have horses in her life. To her, riding is a normal part of her weekly agenda like going to the gym for a workout might be to another. It has helped her be organized and time efficient. It has helped her keep perspective, focus her energies, and accept responsibility. Consequently, riding in college was to be included, not as a distraction to her academics but as an enhancement to her educational experience and healthy partner to her class and study schedule. She had also decided she would rather ride on a club team than a varsity team as she was not prepared to commit to the rigors required of varsity equestrian competition. We fully endorsed her decision.

As Chelsea’s high school days passed, we toured many college campuses near our home in Washington State and in the southern part of the U.S. as well. Options in life are always a good thing except when confronted by too much information. I worried we had looked at too many colleges: how would she choose out of the dozen or so places we visited? All were great schools, capable of providing her what she wanted educationally as well as socially and recreationally. Thankfully, we had enlisted the help of an independent college advisor in Seattle, who suggested we meet with Trinity’s advisor who was scheduled to be in town. Without a doubt, that was the single best action Chelsea took in finding the right school.

Trinity University English class outdoors
English professor Jenny Browne conducts class outdoors.
At a local Starbucks (this is Seattle after all) we sat down with the Trinity advisor I now consider a good friend. Chelsea and he hit it off right away. I simply sat and listened. He painted a great, realistic picture of life at Trinity and in San Antonio that could not be found on any website or glossy college brochure. His enthusiasm was contagious. I decided if Chelsea was not interested, I would sign up myself! The hour and a half went by rapidly and when it was over, Chelsea, (to her parents’ delight) voiced her keen interest in attending Trinity.

The application process at Trinity was straight forward. She was accepted and was also pleased to learn she was awarded a generous academic scholarship. We made a trip to campus during spring break of her senior year to tour the school and meet professors, her recruitment advisor, and current students. Chelsea spent the night on campus with a student host as well, enhancing her introductory experience. The next morning, when I picked her up at campus, she exclaimed, “Where do we sign?” I was so happy in her decision, as I was certain Trinity offered her everything she needed in a first-rate education and healthy atmosphere. I nearly ran to the Admissions office to place our deposit right then and there.

After letting Admissions know she was committing, I had a huge smile on my face as we drove the half hour north to the equestrian training location where Trinity’s riding team practices. We met a coach named Stephanie, toured the facility, and of course met all the horses. Although diminutive in size, Stephanie has shown herself huge in skill, leadership, and heart. Two riding seasons now completed, Chelsea looks at Stephanie as much as a mentoring aunt as equestrian coach. Stephanie is a great role model and gives much of herself and her facilities for the benefit of the team. I should also point out that the riding team at Trinity is not at all an elitist club sport. Rider enthusiasm matters.

Two seasons ago when Chelsea was a freshman rider, the team consisted of four women. At the end of her first season, Chelsea became team captain. Last season, the team had 11 women riding. Now, there are nine returning riders, which bodes well for another successful show season. Trinity was very competitive last season even though they are the second smallest team in their showing region. Of the six schools in their region, four are larger, better funded teams. Trinity has bested those teams in several showing events and will continue to do so. This speaks to the team’s skill, dedication, and coaching.

Trinity University student in the Writing Center
Trinity University's Writing Center is a resource for students.
For Trinity, the show season starts in October and runs through the end of April. There are regional and zone events after that. Chelsea qualified and attended regionals, the Sunday after the team’s last event of the season in Baton Rouge. Based on her placing in this regional event, she qualified and competed in the zone event held in Savannah, Georgia, on the first weekend in May. I’d better point out that I am not one of those Dads who believes it is all about winning medals and beating everyone else. As parents, we want our kids to be winners at life. To us, this means joining the team, making good friends, trying their best, learning what lessons losing and winning can offer while striving to improve. Academics plays a very big role in this development. Recreational pursuits certainly do also.

You may be wondering why all the attention on the riding team? Clearly Trinity is not solely focused on sports, but not only academics either. Trinity prepares their students to be successful in the rest of their lives as defined by the whole individual. The educational opportunities are first rate at Trinity and of primary importance. In looking at the whole student however, interests outside of the classroom and library are also important to the betterment of the student. Trinity affords their student body a multitude of recreational opportunities where inclusion is the norm.

Trinity understands the importance of providing these varied varsity and club level sports. Friendships that last throughout their lives are formed in college with team members and in classrooms and dorms. Interests are explored and expanded, new knowledge and experiences fuel a life lived with interest and passion. Sports can enhance these college experiences most certainly. I see it in my daughter’s life at Trinity: in the way she talks about her favorite English professor, in her description of the horse she rode in their last show, in her awe of her brilliant roommate, of her recounting of Jane Goodall’s presentation in Laurie Auditorium. Trinity has continued to cultivate our daughter’s passion for life. As parents, for what more could we hope?

About Roger

Roger Runacres graduated from the University of Washington and is a managing partner with Contech Services, a specialty construction firm in Seattle. He enjoys watching his oldest daughter show horses and his youngest daughter play competitive volleyball.He is a serial three-putter and motorcycle enthusiast. Chelsea Runacres is an English major starting her junior year as a Trinity Tiger..

1 comment:

  1. Great article! From one dad of a Trinity equestrian riding girl to another.