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Q&A with 2017-2018 varsity equestrian captains: Maddy Benfield, Ella Frey

Juniors+Ella+Frey+and+Maddy+Benfield+smile+in+the+courtyard.+In+addition+to+being+equestrian+captains+together%2C+the+girls+are+also+close+friends.+
Juniors Ella Frey and Maddy Benfield smile in the courtyard. In addition to being equestrian captains together, the girls are also close friends.

Juniors Ella Frey and Maddy Benfield smile in the courtyard. In addition to being equestrian captains together, the girls are also close friends.

Photo by Cat Oriel

Photo by Cat Oriel

Juniors Ella Frey and Maddy Benfield smile in the courtyard. In addition to being equestrian captains together, the girls are also close friends.

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Every week, juniors Maddy Benfield and Ella Frey can be found training with their horses Czar and Gember.

Both girls developed a passion for riding horses when they were very young. Benfield has been on the Archer team since seventh grade, while Frey joined as a freshman. This year, the girls will be leading Archer’s varsity team as co-captains.

The Oracle sat down with Frey and Benfield to discuss their experience with equestrian and their goals for the year.

How long have you been riding? How did you get started?

Ella Frey [EF]: I have been riding since I was about four years old. I started doing it at a summer camp. I realized I was really passionate about spending time with horses and riding them, so I started to pursue it more competitively. I’ve been doing it ever since.

Maddy Benfield [MB]: Similar to Ella, I started at summer camp too, but a little bit later — when I was nine or 10. I’ve been doing it ever since as well.

Can you explain how equestrian at Archer works? Do you have a coach?

MB: We are a team and have four shows a year. We all practice separately and then, within the show, when you get a ribbon you get a point value that goes toward your school. We have 11 members this year. We have a school representative, [Archer’s Director of Communications & Strategic Marketing Quyen Ngo], and then we all have trainers.

EF: The horse shows… are called the IEL, Interscholastic Equestrian League. 

Although it is a very individualized sport, how do you maintain a sense of team spirit?

EF: Although it is a very individualized sport, you are constantly cheering on your teammates. You get to bond with them because shows usually last all day. It’s really about [being] encouraging, even if you are competing against each other. It’s really fun to watch each other and always be there.

MB: Even at the shows, too, we have a booth, so we try to bring food and have been meetings after each show to talk about our similar experiences.

What are your goals this year as captains? 

MB: Our main goal is to make Archer more aware of us as a team and make sure we’re bonding with other people in different grades so that we can be more cohesive.

EF: I think previously the equestrian team hasn’t been very strong and connected. We’re definitely working on making it more of a team and being there for each other when we’re competing, since we have a big common interest…What I’ve personally experienced[in that past] is that the team hasn’t been really connected. We’ve hardly ever met. Since it is more of an individual sport, than playing for example basketball or soccer, sometimes I think there’s lower morale. But that’s what we’re trying to work on this year: to make a more connected team so that we feel just as much a part of the Archer sports community as volleyball, basketball or one of those teams that practices [together].

MB: We also talked about maybe sending emails — like how they do with basketball — saying how people did and trying to make [equestrian] more known. [We want to] let people know what we are doing.

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