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St. Norbert College to Add Equestrian Sports

From St. Norbert College, April 1, 2017
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

St. Norbert College president Thomas Kunkel announced today that the college will soon add equestrian sports to its highly successful athletic portfolio.

Kunkel said that during construction of the soon-to-open Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center, the opportunity arose to construct stables on the property, and the college jumped at the chance. "Were always seeking new opportunities to enrich the lives of our students," he said, "and our Norbertine heritage makes an equine presence a natural fit on campus."

Kunkel was referring to the life history of Norbert of Xanten, founder of the Norbertine order, who converted to a life of faith after being thrown from a horse.

Kunkel said the college initially plans to offer three sports: polo, steeplechase and, in another nod to history, jousting.

Steeplechase events will occur at the college's Donald J. Schneider Stadium. Kunkel acknowledged that scheduling may pose some challenges: "We're pretty well booked on weekends with men's and women's track & field," he said, "but we're looking into the possibility of holding events simultaneously. The track does have eight lanes."

Polo will revive a program that existed very briefly at the college in the past, lasting one season in 1933. "They tried to make it a winter sport," said Kunkel. "Lacking space on campus for a field, the Norbertine fathers attempted to hold matches on the frozen Fox River. Unfortunately we had a very warm winter in 1933, and things took a somewhat unfortunate turn." Kunkel said matches in the new program will take place on land, and players will simply have to do their best to avoid the trees, pedestrians and other obstacles they encounter.

As for jousting, Kunkel says it, too, seemed like an apt addition. "For decades, our Green Knights athletics logos have featured a mounted, jousting knight. What better way to bring that concept to life? We have some concerns about how the program might impact student retention, and we're struggling to draft adequate permission waivers, but we're confident these are small obstacles and that by fall semester we'll have a team in place." He added that a search is underway for other schools currently fielding jousters to provide competition.

Kunkel said the presence of so many horses on campus will require additional staffing. "We'll be opening a search shortly for coaches," he said, "along with a Senior Vice Chancellor of Equine Services with some shoveling experience."