Aug. 13, 2009 - Mississippi College's equestrian team gallops into its third season this fall. Talented freshman recruits and the recent hiring of two nationally recognized trainers are building expectations for another successful year.
Several freshmen selected MC largely because of the equestrian program, said Jamie Planck Martin, the owner of Providence Hill Farm, the team's 2,000-acre headquarters. "They are strong riders and are going to add a lot of enthusiasm and many blue ribbons to the team's efforts.''
Martin, the team's adviser and biggest booster, predicts another outstanding year ahead. Last spring, MC star rider Meredith Guider of Utica earned a 7th-place finish in the Nationals at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Guider, a senior planning to graduate with a business degree in December, captured 4th place honors in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's Nationals in May 2008 in Los Angeles.
Becky Baumel, a former star rider at Findlay University in Ohio, is returning for a second season as MC's head coach. This fall and spring, Baumel will get help from two new trainers at Providence Hill Farm - Jack Stedding and Linda Andrisani. "Jack and Linda are two of the most respected professionals in the country and will add a wealth of knowledge and experience to our coaching,'' Martin said.
New freshmen joining the team this fall include Katie Rosenbaum of Tennessee and Kathryn Cawthorn, a graduate of Northwest Rankin High in Brandon.
Rosenbaum plans to be a Christian Studies major at MC this fall. "She loves horses,'' says her father, Gary Rosenbaum. In early August, Katie was on a summer mission trip to Africa. She's been riding horses for four years. Her family lives in Lenoir City near Knoxville.
"The Christian Studies was what really attracted her to MC,'' Gary Rosenbaum said. "When she met the equestrian people she was really impressed and just decided that's where she wanted to be. That was where God was leading her to school.''
After her graduation from Baptist-affiliated MC, Rosenbaum wants to pursue church missions full-time. The 18-year-old Tennessee native earlier traveled to Brazil on a mission assignment. Last summer, Katie spent ten weeks on a mission trip at a New Mexico ranch working with disadvantaged children. Katie also excels in the classroom - she graduated with a 4.0 average at Lenoir City High School in 2009.
"God has given me a passion for horses,'' Katie Rosenbaum said. "Mostly I've been caring for all their health needs and riding them over four years.''
And while it's a huge plus that Mississippi College fields an equestrian team, Katie says "above all else, I'm going to MC because it is a Christian college.''
Also anxious to saddle up at Mississippi College is another freshman. Donna Cawthon said her daughter Kathryn learned many of her horse-riding skills when she trained on a farm in Brandon. The preparation is paying off. Kathryn did her first hunter jumper show in Canton last spring and won first place in one of her divisions. She's been riding horses since age 9. Kathryn competed in Mississippi's State Games in Meridian for the first time as a ten-year-old.
Kathryn "is able to ride all types of horses. The equestrian team was the thing that attracted her to MC,'' Donna Cawthon said. Her 18-year-old daughter is also interested in MC academics and plans to major in psychology on the Clinton campus.
Getting to know the MC family - from coach Becky Baumel to top-notch riders like Meredith Guider - was a major factor in her enrollment on the Clinton campus. Providence Hill Farm really impressed both mom and daughter. "They have weddings out there,'' Donna Cathon noted from her home near Brandon.
Returning for her third season on the MC team is Texas native Sara Mellado, the granddaughter of internationally celebrated artist Sam Gore of Clinton. She made it to the IHSA regionals in Georgia last season. Sara is expected to be one of the standouts on the team in 2009-2010.
Located at 2600 Carsley Road, Providence Hill Farm is home to lake, riding trails, stables for 36 horses, fishing and picnic areas, and much more. Instructors at the sprawling facility about a 15-minute drive from Clinton also offer riding lessons to MC students and others in the Magnolia State.
In early October, Providence Hill Farm will host an evening reception for school leaders attending the 76th annual meeting of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities on the MC campus.
Providence Hill Farm also plans to be the site of a horse show this fall. Finals details of the MC equestrian team's road schedule are being worked out. But the MC riders are expected to compete against college teams in Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas.
For more information, contact Providence Hill Farm at 601.925.0557 or the MC athletic department at 601.925.3341 or visit www.mc.edu and go to athletics.