Sept. 23, 2013
By Chelsea Zillner
For four Auburn equestrians the term "fearless and true," was taken to a new level, literally.
When Rachel Linwoke up on the morning of her 22nd birthday she thought of the perfect way to celebrate. While most 22 year olds would be excited to spend a night out on the town with friends, this senior had something else in mind.
"Skydiving," said Lin. "I'm an adventurous person, I bungee jumped this summer in Costa Rica and I knew this was something I wanted to do."
Lin convinced her three teammates, Piper Donnelly, Quincy Hayes, and Jennifer Waxman to join in on the fun and headed to Skydive Atlanta to take the plunge. The group decided on tandem skydiving, allowing them to be strapped to an instructor. With the upcoming season looming around the corner, the four figured the safer the better. After two hours of training and safety instruction the foursome made 14,000-foot climb into the sky. A weather delay kept the plane circling for more than an hour; English rider Quincy Hayeswas less than thrilled.
"It was actually very nerve wracking flying in the air on the world's tiniest plane," recalls Hayes. "The hardest part was just mentally preparing myself, so the delay was exhausting. Not to mention, my stomach was over the turbulence."
Waxman was the first to jump. After a couple deep breaths, Waxman leaped out of plane for minute of free fall and seven minutes of gliding to the ground.
"It was the coolest thing," Waxman said. "I felt like I was flying. I wasn't at all surprised when Rachel said she wanted to skydive, I'm so glad we actually got to experience it and doing it together was a bonus."
Donnelly, Hayes, and Lin followed Waxman`s lead and described the experience as "indescribable," and "unreal." After everybody made it safely to the ground and the thrill of the jump started to wear off, it was no surprise when chatter about the upcoming season began.
"Coach (Greg Williams) told us the `Parachute Story,' before the first meet last season," Lin recalls. "It's about really having your team's back and being strong for one another, I think that applied today."
Team camaraderie and support is a staple among the equestrian team. Head coach Greg Williamsattributes the team's success to having a teammate's back no matter what. Williams began the 2012-13 national championship season with the "Parachute Story."
The story is about, P.O.W. survivor, Charlie Plumb, who was shot down in enemy territory in 1964. He survived his jump because of the extra panels that were packed in his parachute. Years later in a restaurant, Plumb met the man who packed his parachute. He thanked him for having his back and saving his life. The message was taken to heart, and Williams challenged his team to be the strength for someone else when times get tough.
The equestrian team rose to the challenge. They stayed at the top of the polls throughout the season, earning a fourth and fifth seed at nationals. Auburn earned their second overall national championship title in the past three seasons.
Whether it's winning championships in the arena or jumping 14,000 feet out of a tiny plane, this team knows the meaning behind "fearless and true," and lives it.