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TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

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Sophomore Kari Hancock excels as a student athlete and Chancellor’s Scholar


When thinking of the title “student athlete,” many assume one part of the phrase prioritizes itself over the other. However, sophomore hunt seat rider and Chancellor scholar Kari Hancock proves these commitments can compliment each other with the help of organization and focus.

Hancock is a biochemistry major on the pre-vet track hoping to become an equine orthopedic surgeon and receive a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.

She has traveled far from her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to be a Horned Frog, but she said her transition became easier as she became more involved on TCU’s campus.

“Moving this far from Alaska was basically the same as throwing a kid in the deep end to teach them how to swim,” Hancock said. “I got the hang of being on my own and I started to learn a lot more about myself.”

The Alaskan native said she was drawn to TCU not only for the warmer weather but also after learning about the university’s biochemistry program and equestrian team.

“I chose to come to TCU because of the Chancellor’s Scholarship, the Equestrian team, and the feeling of belonging I got from the school,” Hancock said.

Chancellor Victor Boschini said he has been able to see Hancock in a variety of ways with her being a student in his class, working in his office and being a Chancellor scholar.

“Kari is intensely motivated, humble and fun to be around,” Boschini said. “She’s not [one who stresses a lot] which helps her both academically and athletically.”

Hancock competed in 13 of the team’s meets this past season, winning eight of her events. She upheld a 5-1 record when competing against league opponents. Hancock also received five Most Outstanding Player honors in equitation on the flat during the 2014-2015 season.

Hancock was also named to the National Collegiate Equestrian Association First-Team All-American team this season, making her the second Horned Frog in TCU history to receive this recognition for hunt seat.

Hancock’s other season honors include being named Big 12 Rider of the Month and NCEA Equitation on the Flat Rider of the Month in February, being named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 Equestrian Team and being named to the Beval Saddlery Academic Team.

Hancock said she first decided to train in horseback riding when she was nine years old

“I randomly decided that gymnastics wasn’t my passion and that horseback riding sounded like more fun,” Hancock said. “From then on, I never looked back and devoted myself completely to the sport.”

Hancock took beginner lessons at Diamond H. Ranch with the facility’s owner Linda McQueary who has lived and worked on the barn since 1959. She later transitioned and began training under Jamie Thurman of Forever Young Farm.

“Jamie taught me a lot about the mentality of the sport and how to ride accurately,” Hancock said. “She took advantage of my logic and helped me to figure out how to apply it to planning and executing my rides.”

Hancock also said Thurman encouraged her to practice on as many horses on the farm as possible to prepare her for college competitions. She said this helped her learn early on how to quickly communicate with horses and feel how the horse wants to be ridden.

“I started competing at small shows when I was 11 and eventually worked my way up to the larger shows,” said Hancock. “From the beginning I was hooked on the feeling I got from being able to compete as a way of proving myself.”

Hancock said her parents were her largest supporters on and off the horse, but they also were her motivators pushing her to succeed in all she did.

“The feeling I got from making them proud was unlike anything else,” Hancock said. “I wanted to repay them for everything they scarified for me, so I studied harder, trained longer and did everything I could to help me get to the top of whatever I was facing.”

Hancock said she uses the focus and determination she has during her classes to help her excel in her competitions. With the accuracy needed to perform in equitation, Hancock said she enjoys being able to use her logic when calculating how to perform a seamless routine.

“My abilities as a strong student have taught me to think logically about my riding and training,” Hancock said. “Each movement has to somehow flow into the next, and that’s where I enjoy trying to figure out exactly what I should be doing to prepare for every step.”

Because being both an honors student and an athlete come with their own time requirements, Hancock said she keeps two planners, one for the yearly schedule of main events and the other for more daily things like homework and meetings, to ensure she has time to complete everything she has to do for the day.

“The motivation to maintain my grades and learn as much as possible while here keeps me focused on each task at hand so that I complete everything with quality and efficiency,” Hancock said.

But Hancock said she was fortunate in that her ideal way to spend free time and relax from school work was being around and riding horses.

“I use my time at practice as a way to escape from the stress of school and relax with the horse,” Hancock said.

Although Hancock is committed in several different capacities, TCU Director of Equestrian Haley Schoolfield said Hancock always displays a winning attitude.

“I don’t think I have ever heard Kari complain or say anything that was not positive,” Schoolfield said. “Her willingness to work hard paired with her talent and mental toughness make her a top athlete.”

Hancock said main goals for the rest of her college career are to finish her degree, help her team win a Nationals Championship and transition into a DVM/Ph.D. program.

When asked how she can complete all of these goals, Hancock said, “I always have my eye on the prize.”

“I realize how lucky I am to be here on this team,” Hancock said. “While it’s a lot to manage and the workload can be exhausting, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“I don’t know if I would like college if I weren’t a student athlete,” Hancock said.

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