The Office of Student Engagement at Manhattan College has received several requests in the past from students looking to start clubs and activities on campus.
John Bennett, the director of student engagement, recalls instances where students have wanted to start hockey and quidditch teams.
But an idea that had never come across the office, just did. Sophomores Brynn Buonanno and Ariella Omar contacted Bennett about the possibility of starting an equestrian team at Manhattan.
“My response to [Buonanno] was the same that I give all students when they come in wanting to start something either athletic in nature or that could be an intramural or club sport, which is that we will fully support and help you,” Bennett said. “The first step in that is that we need to see that there’s student support for it.”
And so far, there’s been support for equestrian.
Buonanno and Omar distributed flyers on campus for more than a week, and have gotten 18 students to sign on for what could potentially become an equestrian club.
“I was really surprised,” Buonanno said of the interest equestrian has garnered, “because it’s not really a hobby that a lot of people take up, because it’s expensive and it takes a lot of time.”
Buonanno and Omar have been riding horses since they were 4 years old. The two train at Saddle River Equestrian in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., and brought the idea to Bennett after their trainer urged them to do so.
“[Buonanno’s] trainer , which is my trainer, texted me and was like, ‘We want to start a team, make sure you’re a part of it,’” Omar said.
The idea for an equestrian club is still in the early stages. Several particulars would still have to be sorted out, like how much individuals would have to pay for lessons and what they would do for transportation as the barn is about 30 minutes away from Manhattan.
Bennett will meet with Buonanno and Omar this week to discuss some of those details. After that, they will meet with Saddle River Equestrian and agree on a schedule, as well as discuss insurance issues.
While there are still several steps left to make equestrian official at Manhattan, the interest it has received makes it almost a sure bet for Bennnett.
“If [Buonanno] got 18 to sign up just from her flyer, I think once there’s actual substance to it, and there’s a date, sign ups and those sort of details out there, I think twice that could sign up,” Bennett said. “Talk about a whole different experience, that’s the whole point of going to college.”
Buonanno believes that an equestrian club can be beneficial to Manhattan.
“It can potentially draw in more people,” Buonanno said. “If they see it on the website and it says that we have an equestrian team or an equestrian club, that could make someone want to come here even more.”
Buonanno and Omar have high hopes for equestrian. While the plan is to start out as a club, the two would like to see it eventually become a Division 1 sport.
“To compete,” Omar said she wants to accomplish with equestrian, “and win.”