Oct. 10, 2013
By: Grace Bolin
AUBURN, Ala. -- Being a part of the Auburn Equestrian team is a huge honor. Competing at the national level on an elite team takes talent, hard-work and most importantly, dedication. Several former Auburn student-athletes have continued their passion for riding post-graduation. Four Auburn alumni and former members of the equestrian team have taken on a new role ... coaching.
These recent Auburn grads are all using their talents to coach collegiate equestrian teams. All of these former riders were a part of an Auburn National Championship team and have dispersed all over the country to help lead other teams to victory.
After graduating in 2009, Jessica Braswell moved up north to take on the corporate world, but ultimately moved back to The Plains to help lead the Tigers to a 2013 National Championship. She is now in her third season as assistant coach.
"When Coach Williams called me about the job here, I couldn't pass it up," said Braswell. "It's a dream job for me because I get to work with the horses and the students and it doesn't feel like work."
However, pursuing a professional career in equestrian was not always the plan for many of these former Auburn riders.
"I didn't think I would graduate and then become the head coach of a collegiate equestrian team, but I am really glad it worked out that way," said Southern Methodist head coach and former Tiger Natalie Burton. "I graduated with a law degree so I really thought my career would head in that direction. But I love coaching."
It is not uncommon to find female equestrian coaches. This is a women's sport and many of the coaches have prior experiences riding at the collegiate level.
"It makes a lot of sense for coaches to come out of a program that they know a lot about. It's a great opportunity for women to get into coaching," Braswell said.
Auburn Head Coach Greg Williams has also passed on his coaching knowledge to Anna Schierholz, an assistant coach at Baylor. Schierholz graduated from Auburn in 2009 with a degree in journalism, but a coaching position was too good to pass up. She headed to Baylor after a year of being assistant coach at Kansas State.
The most recent Auburn grad pursuing a career in coaching is Anna Becker. After graduating from Auburn just earlier this year, Becker became an assistant coach at Kansas State University.
Perhaps Williams is the man to thank for all of these coaching positions. He teaches his riders hard-work, responsibility, respect, and how to get those winning results. All of which are qualities schools seek in a coach. These four former Auburn riders have used their influences gained from Williams to be successful as coaches at other colleges.
"I draw a lot from my times here being a student-athlete," Braswell added. "It helps me relate to them and also knowing what it takes to be a winning team. It also helps knowing the horses and the format."
"Coach Williams not only influenced me as a rider, but as a person in general," Burton said. "I really learned how to connect with the riders by the way he connected with us."
Becoming a coach of a collegiate equestrian team is a great achievement. Having four former Auburn student athletes to take on these positions shows the quality and impact of the Auburn Equestrian team.