School Bulletin: Kettle Moraine team rides into new territory
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Kettle Moraine High School's new equestrian team is riding with pride. The students placed 6th overall in Division C at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Horsemanship Association State Championships. They also far exceeded their own expectations.
"We came into the show knowing we'd probably be into the lower end of the pool because it is our first year," Ryan Wolfe, a 10th grade student, says. "It felt pretty amazing though, winning."
Senior Lucy Kowalski spurred everyone into action at the beginning of the year to form the team. She also learned a valuable lesson: just ask.
"I'd always wanted to be part of an equestrian team, but I never got the chance to so I thought I should take this opportunity," Kowalski says. "I brought it to the principal, asked him, and he said, 'Yes, we would love to have a team.' I got my advisor to sign off on it, and we started from there."
Her dad, Scott Kowalski, and fellow parent, Brenda Wolfe, volunteered to coach the group. Both agreed all of the kids were very self-motivated.
"We were learning as we were going," Wolfe says. "This whole competition finds a balance between finding your strengths and playing up to them, while trying things you've never done before."
Each team member practiced on their own -- finding time after school and on weekends to work with their horses. The coaches say the students' parents, and even grandparents, helped with transportation and scheduling. There were also progress reports throughout the season as everyone tackled different events involving speed, obstacles and communication.
"Normally when you think about riding horses, it's an individual sport," Jordan McCarthy, a 9th grade student, says. "[But] it was just a great opportunity to have friends. Just a great connection with the group... we had a really fun time."
The fun came when everyone competed and cheered each other on at the shows. Then came the state championships over the last weekend of October. It was a big trip to The Alliant Energy Center in Madison. More than 250 students competed and represented 40 schools.
"It was really cool to see all of us get better after regionals, and we all worked really hard to do our best at state," Sydney Meyer, a 12th grade student, says.
"I think that my favorite part was the relay race because you didn't have to do it all by yourself, and it was a team effort," Alex Brickl, the youngest member and an 8th grade student, says.
Individually the students did very well, with state champion titles to take home along with other top prizes. Coach Wolfe says it was "pretty incredible for our first year going."
Coach Kowalski says he took a unique approach during the competition -- keeping the results a secret until the very end.
"I made sure that I didn't tell any of the kids where we were the whole weekend," Scott Kowalski says. "They just had to do their best the whole time through and work as a team."
Now the team aims to improve even more for the next season and get more people interested in riding.
"Not a lot of people do it," Brickl says. "It's not the same sport that a lot of people do. It's unique."