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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Controlling the controllable

Emmy-Lu+Marsh+turns+her+horse+during+the+reigning+event.
Photo by Paul Burke

Emmy-Lu Marsh turns her horse during the reigning event.

Emmy-Lu Marsh remembers the disappointment she felt from the 2020 season being canceled after she competed as a freshman on the Texas A&M equestrian team. Now a sophomore reiner, Marsh has realized her experience made her stronger as an underclassmen athlete.
The team went home for Spring Break last year and did not know they would be told to not return to campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic last season. While the upperclassmen endured this setback and relied on their experience this season, the underclassmen not only had to adjust, but were forced to compete without the same experiences.
Being a freshman athlete at A&M was a culture change, jump seat sophomore Kaitlyn Lovingfoss said. Marsh is from Louisiana and Lovingfoss is from California and both said they had to also adjust to living in another state.
“I graduated high school with 12 kids in my class,” Marsh said. “Having 50 girls on one team and then 70,000 kids in a whole school was crazy for me.”
Marsh said she was around five years old when her passion for riding horses began, and when it was time to choose a collegiate equestrian team, she said A&M felt like home. Last season, Marsh was awarded Western Rookie of the Year honors at the team’s annual banquet and recorded all three of her wins against conference opponents, according to 12thman.com.
“Being able to ride as a freshman never really happens,” Marsh said. “I was having a really good freshman year and was having a lot of fun.”
The team had an overall record of 5-7, but prior to their season being canceled, the team was victorious over Baylor, South Dakota State, and only lost to No. 1 Auburn 10-9.
“We scored the closest to Auburn than anyone had gone to them before in the past I don’t know how many years,” Marsh said.
Although the team did not get to compete in the SEC Championship or the NCEA Championships, Lovingfoss said she did not realize how irregular this season was because she has yet to experience a full season.
“While we were thankful to play most of our season, you play most of your season for an end goal like getting to the national championship,” A&M coach Tana McKay said. “That was hard for everybody. Everything we worked for was not going to be seen at the national championship.”
As a freshman, Lovingfoss was awarded Jumping Seat Rookie of the Year by the team at the annual banquet and finished with four wins in Fences and two in Flat last season, according to 12thman.com. Despite her success being cut short, Lovingfoss learned many lessons.
“I would say that I definitely learned flexibility and to adapt to the circumstances because I was able to take what I learned from the season I was able to have to come into this season more prepared,” Lovingfoss said. “College riding is a lot different than what I did before I came here, so it definitely was a huge adjustment.”
Before this season, half of the team had not competed in the postseason, which McKay said is very different from the regular season. She said it is important for the freshmen to lean on their teammates, and senior Caroline Dance said she tried her best to be an upperclassman to lean on.
“Being in the pandemic and being in the bubble with all of the protocols, they cannot make a lot of friends,” Dance said. “I feel for them, but I am also really proud of them for putting their team first when they honestly didn’t know us very well.”
Dance said it is easier for the upperclassmen to make these sacrifices since they have experienced a normal season together and have built relationships. Despite the underclassmen blindly following them, Dance said they are still committed to the team and for that, she is grateful.
“I just try to put myself in their shoes every day because it is really hard,” Dance said. “I remember being a freshman and being super intimated and especially during a pandemic, I think it puts extra on that.”
Lovingfoss said she was inspired by the leadership of the seniors and said they are all great in different ways. She said she felt motivated to be better by their guidance.
The hardships the team endured this season made them more appreciative for what they have, said Marsh. The team has taken COVID-19 protocols seriously and said they do not ride for themselves, but for each other and their safety in order to remain healthy.
McKay said being in a judged sport, it is important to not sweat the small stuff and to only focus on what can be controlled.
“You’ve got to control the controllable,” McKay said. “That is our motto and it rolled into this COVID[-19] pandemic.”

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