It's signing time for several NCEA teams, and we talked to some of the top riders who have accepted to ride for major universities across the country. Find out where leading exhibitors Megan McMullen, Bailey Mierzejewski, Courtney Allen, Gabi Salamone, Charley Thiel, and Kaci Fisher will be attending next fall.
Kaci Fisher---Texas A&M University (pictured right)
Abilene High School Senior, Kaci Fisher says she is really excited to be attending Texas A&M.
atmosphere on the team as well as the coaching staff is awesome,"
Fisher told GoHorseShow. "Beth Bass, the horsemanship coach, invited me
to come for an official visit, and I fell in love with the school. It
has a lot to offer me academically, and the equestrian team is very
successful, and I feel like I would fit in right at home at A&M."
feels honored to receive an equestrian scholarship to compete in the
horsemanship and she looks forward to contributing to the future success
of the team. "I knew that I wanted to stay kind of close to home, so, I
had narrowed it down between Texas A&M and Baylor," Kaci states. "I
visited both schools and found that although both are great schools, I
fit into A&M really well."
Fisher, whose father, Buddy
Fisher, is an AQHA World Champion trainer and judge, explains that she is
undecided on her major, but A&M has a great Animal Science
department and that has definitely sparked her interest. Kaci says she
would like to thank Beth Bass and the A&M Equestrian team for having
an interest in her as an equestrian.
Charley Thiel--University of Georgia
Charley Thiel of Dublin, Ohio, who is largely known for being back-to-back AQHYA World Champions in the hunter under saddle with her horse, Tophat And Tails, actually signed her letter of intent to compete in the reining at the University of Georgia.
"I started showing in this class about three years ago," the Coffman High School Senior, states. "After showing in the all around events, when I learned about this opportunity, I knew right away that this is what I wanted to do. I was hooked!"
Thiel remembers November 14th, the day she signed her letter of intent, fondly. "It was a day that I will never forget. I had been looking forward and praying about this day for my entire life--the day I committed to a school that I would earn a degree from and even more so do my favorite thing... ride and compete with horses. I spent months going through the NCAA recruiting process, visiting schools, and eventually making a decision which all led to this very moment."
Charley says that she was recruited by four other schools and found something at every school that could potentially make her happy, but after a long deliberation and two weeks of not telling anyone...Georgia was her college of choice.
"The University of Georgia is like no other to me," says Charley, who was also on the 2012 US World Cup Team that competed in Germany this year. "The campus, academics, athletics, equestrian team, coaching staff, and tradition of the school is quite impressive and somewhat addictive. Right away, I felt at home," she explains. "This was very important to me because I will be so far from my family. I knew I wanted to go somewhere I thought I fit in. From the moment I stepped foot on the campus, I thought 'This is where I'm going to school!' I'm confident that the opportunities that will present themselves during and after school will be remarkable."
Bailey Mierzejewski and Courtney Allen--University of South Carolina
Bailey Mierzejewski of Madison Plains High School located in Mt. Sterling, Ohio, says she verbally committed to USC about a week before the actual signing day. "I was very relieved once I made a final decision and that made the signing process much easier," she says. "I was very excited to sign with USC, and I actually got to sign on my birthday, which made the experience even better."
Mierzejewski chose USC after also contemplating Auburn and Texas A&M. "I know several girls that are currently on the equestrian team at USC, and, they all love both the team and the school," Bailey states. "On my official visit, I felt like I fit right in with everyone. The campus at USC is beautiful, and I was very impressed with the student opportunities. My decision was also highly based on academic programs. I believe that the six year pharmacy program at USC will be perfect for me."
Bailey continues, "I am very excited to be able to continue riding horses and competing through college. My life has revolved around horses for so long that it would be very hard to give that up for six years while in school. It is wonderful that so many schools are recognizing equestrian as more than just a club sport and offering scholarships to the athletes. It is great to receive money for college for doing something that I love."
Courtney Allen of Millard West High School located in Omaha, Nebraska, and the daughter of Jeff and Windy Allen, also chose USC. "Signing was very exciting for me," Allen told GoHorseShow. "I had my decision narrowed down to two great schools, Baylor University and University of South Carolina. I would have loved to go to either, but South Carolina truly had everything I was looking for," she says. "I felt very fortunate to be recruited by such great programs. I am very excited to be a part of the Gamecock Athletic Program as an equestrian. They offer many things to the athletes that are very beneficial, such as access to tutors and impressive facilities."
Allen adds, "I feel that growing up around horses and showing at AQHA horse shows has prepared me for this amazing opportunity to compete as a college equestrian. I am planning on majoring in Athletic Training and then continuing on to Medical School to ultimately become a Sports Medicine Orthopedist."
Gabi Salamone and Megan McMullen--Texas Christian University
"I was so excited to sign with TCU," says, Gabi Salamone of Scottsdale, Arizona. "It's such a great school, and I was thrilled that they even wanted me on the team. The campus is so beautiful; everything is so brand new. I will be doing horsemanship if I go next fall, which is actually my favorite class to compete in, so, I'm glad it's a part of women's equestrian."
Salamone says that she didn't really look at any other schools because she liked the girls and the feel of TCU. "It just seemed like a good fit from the start," Gabi says. "I originally was planning to major in business, but now I'm kind of undecided about what I want to study in school. I am so thrilled to get the opportunity to sign my letter of intent with them."
Megan McMullen of Norris, Tennessee has followed in the footsteps of her big sister, Lindsey McMullen, who received an equestrian scholarship for horsemanship at OSU, but Megan decided she liked Texas better.
"I have loved the Fort Worth area since I was little and the smaller campus fits me better than the bigger universities," says the Grace Christian Academy Senior. "Also, I liked the coach (Kindel Huffman Walter) and I'm really excited to join an equestrian team. I have heard my sister talk about how much she loves the equestrian program and I can't wait to start. I feel like the equestrian program is an extension to my youth years in showing AQHA. I can't wait for this next chapter of my life."
GoHorseShow congratulates all the new NCEA signees and wishes then the best of luck in their college equestrian careers!