The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) annually awards a student rider the National Sportsmanship Award. Proudly sponsored by EQUUS Foundation, this year’s award is presented to Rylee Keiffer, a junior from Tonawanda, New York who rides on the Hunters Ridge IEA Team.
The national award winner is selected from a group of riders who earned a Sportsmanship Award at a local, regional or zone IEA show during the 2021-2022 season. These winners were then invited to submit an application for the National Sportsmanship Award. As part of the application process, student riders submitted a photo, resume, school transcripts, composed a 250-word essay explaining how horses and/or equestrian competition have influenced his/her life and three letters of recommendation.
“IEA has created an atmosphere that promotes teamwork, but it has also allowed me to recognize the impact of positivity within the equine community,” says Keiffer. “Seeing how the show environment can affect riders has allowed me to work towards (and encourage) a positive environment amongst my team. Supporting each other, staying positive and always helping others are vital to creating a close-knit team.”
Keiffer is a 4-year member of Hunters Ridge IEA Team, coached by Lindsay Lindke out of Lockport, NY (Hunt Seat Zone 2). In addition to her IEA experience, Rylee has an extensive resume of academic achievements and community service activities including National Honor Society, leadership positions on her 4-H Horse Club, volunteering at a local Therapuetic Riding Center, assisting with multiple rescue and service organizations, and volunteering at local horse shows. Rylee carries a 4.0 GPA and has been recognized for outstanding achievements in Niagara County 4H Equine Bowl and Hippology, Equine Public Presentations, Regional and State 4H awards (including the 2021 Niagara County Horseman of the Year), and various IEA Sportsmanship and High Point Awards.
“It is evident that Rylee’s ability to lead is her forte,” says former teacher Katie Hockenberry of Drake School. “I became extremely impressed with the young lady Rylee has become when she volunteered her time to come back and teach my current 1st graders the French language. She went above and beyond with every lesson in a multitude of different teaching strategies. It is also evident that Rylee will continue to succeed in all she does because she has the characteristics of a champion!”
Keiffer will receive a $500 cash scholarship from the IEA, a lifetime membership to the IEA and a nomination by the IEA to affiliates’ sportsmanship award programs.
“Good sportsmanship is a tenant in the IEA and this award is held to high regard. Choosing the National Sportsman from the pool of amazing candidates is always a difficult decision every year,” commented Roxane Durant, IEA Executive Director. “Rylee is clearly committed to her equine community and we are thrilled to present her with this recognition.”
In addition to the National Sportsmanship Award, a second National Sportsmanship Award is awarded to the highest placing senior sportsman. This year the award went to Victoria Klapper.
A 4-year member of IEA and honor graduate of Hannover High School in Mechanicsville, Virginia, Klapper will attend Randolph-Macon College this Fall to study Business and Marketing. She is a member of Powerhouse Dressage IEA Team in Hanover, Virginia (Region 3) and coached by Lisa Powers and Lani Tigchelaar. Klapper will also receive a $500 cash scholarship from the IEA.
Approximately 725 IEA riders were eligible for the 2022 National Sportsmanship Award. Among the 97 finalist applicants, the top 8 winners are:
1st PLACE – RYLEE KEIFFER
- A junior on the Hunters Ridge IEA Team (Hunt Seat – Zone 2)
- Tonawanda, New York
2nd PLACE – VICTORIA KLAPPER
- A senior on the Powerhouse Dressage IEA Team (Dressage – Region 3)
- Mechanicsville, Virginia
3rd PLACE – EMMALEE LENTILE
- A freshman on the Mid South IEA Team (Hunt Seat – Zone 4)
- Olive Branch, Mississippi
4th PLACE – SAMANTHA WILLS
- A Sophomore on the Great Strides IEA Team (Hunt Seat – Zone 3)
- Apex, North Carolina
5th PLACE – JESSICA STELLER
- A Senior on the Autumn Rose Equestrian IEA Team (Western – Region 5S)
- Dublin, Ohio
6th PLACE – GABRIELLE GEPHART
- A Freshman on the Serenity Farm IEA Team (Hunt Seat – Zone 11)
- Wernersville, Pennsylvania
7th PLACE – LAUREN CALDWELL
- A Junior on the Fall River Farm IEA Team (Hunt Seat – Zone 8)
- Longmont, Colorado
8th PLACE – MORGAN AUSTIN
- A Junior on the Muddy Brook Farm IEA Team (Hunt Seat – Zone 1)
- Belchertown, Massachusetts
ABOUT INTERSCHOLASTIC EQUESTRIAN ASSOCIATION (IEA)
Now in its 21st year, the IEA has over 14,200 members across the United States participating in Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. IEA’s mission is to promote lifelong involvement in equestrian athletics. IEA wishes to introduce students in grades 4-8 (Future) and 9-12 (Upper School) to equestrian sports and to develop understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports through organized competitions and educational opportunities. IEA further wishes to inspire and facilitate adults to continue their journey in equestrian athletics for a lifetime. For more information, visit www.rideiea.org
ABOUT EQUUS FOUNDATION
The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, is the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, EMail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.equusfoundation.org
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