By Carter Anderson
Keely Laughlin wrapped up her freshman year as an Aggie at University of California Davis, while simultaneously the Aggie Equestrian Team rounded out their first season in the NCEA. Keely competed in both equitation on the flat and equitation over fences and put up many points throughout the season in her respective events. A California native, Keely loves representing her school in her home state and thanks her coaches, teammates and family for all of her success in and out of the arena.
What’s it been like for the team at UC Davis to be new in the NCEA?
We started with all of the original girls who were on the IHSA team previously. There were no recruits and I was one of three freshmen on the team. We’re very close, because we’re relatively small. It has been so fun getting to know everyone. All the girls are so down-to-earth, cool and have great attitudes. The format is new for everyone, including our coach, so it’s been fun to start this journey on this team.
What are the benefits of going to school closer to home?
I’m from Carmela, California, which is about three hours south of UC Davis. Being in-state, I’m able to keep my horse at Davis. I’m also able to go home and ride with my mom and sister when I have time on the weekends. It’s always refreshing and relaxing to get away from school for a couple of days; I get to avoid the homesickness that comes with freshman year.
What’s your favorite part about being a student athlete at UC Davis?
I love the lasting connection I’m able to have with the girls on the equestrian team. I’m thankful to be around a group of friends that I see every day at practice, and get to grow close to for the four years I have at school. I also enjoy getting to go to workouts: I think they’re really fun! It’s so amazing to represent UC Davis on a day-to-day basis.
What are three words that would describe your daily life on the equestrian team?
Hard work, determination and commitment
Do you have a pre-game ritual on meet day?
I never touch my phone on meet days. I wake up focused and ready to conquer the meet ahead. I find that my phone is too much of a distraction, so I don’t use it at all the day of the meet. I also watch videos of talented equestrians I admire to prepare for the day ahead.
Do you have any advice for incoming collegiate equestrian freshmen?
Be confident in yourself and your ability when you step into the ring. I believe confidence is the key to success in anything. Always give it your all, because it pays off not only in the present but at the end-of-the-year banquet as well.