Williamsport graduate helps Emory & Henry win national championship

PHOTO PROVIDED Williamsport graduate Abigail McCoy jumps her horse, Gatwick, over a fence during a competition.

What a year Williamsport athletics has had.

Its boys and girls soccer teams repeated as district champions. The football team has a handful of recruits including, Treyson Potts and Joe Fagnano, going to Division I programs. Its wrestling team was in the district duals final. Allen Taylor won a state track medal over the weekend.

Among all of the success its current high schoolers are having, one alumna, has had quite a year in a different sport.

Abigail McCoy, a 2018 Williamsport graduate and a freshman at Emory & Henry College in Virginia, competed in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association Nationals in Syracuse, New York, May 3-5. McCoy finished eighth in the Intermediate Equitation Over Fences and helped Emory & Henry capture the national title.

“I would not have been able to have the opportunity without my family and friends supporting me. Being at nationals just made me want to practice harder for next year and hopefully be able to qualify individually,” McCoy said.

McCoy began riding horses at the age of four. A neighbor told Abby’s mother, Joy, she would get Abby into horseback riding if Joy was going to have a girl. Not knowing how far she would go with riding, McCoy participated in softball until the sixth grade where she wanted to focus more on her passion and her love for horseback riding.

“I really did not think about riding in college, until they started reaching out to me after seeing me compete in some national events,” McCoy said.

McCoy was put on college radars after her horse, Bo Derek, was named the 2011 Horse of the Year.

She continued training with another horse, Gatwick, and riding in smaller competitions until her junior and senior year when she placed second in the Josey Mohler Equitation event at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg in September of 2017. In the summer of 2018, McCoy went to Saugerties, New York, where she qualified for the finals in the Junior Hunter event.

“That was when colleges started reaching out to me and showed interest,” McCoy said. “Emory & Henry contacted me, and when I visited, I fell in love with the campus.”

McCoy enrolled in the fall of 2018 and immediately became a rising star in her first year of collegiate equestrian. In just the second IHSA event at Wake Forest, McCoy won her class in the Intermediate Fence event and helped the team take first place overall.

She continued competing in the Intermediate Fence events and placed in the top three in four regular-season contests, including another first-place finish at her home track in November, helping Emory & Henry win the Zone 4, Region 5 Championship.

The Zone 4, Region 5 Championship was an automatic qualifier to compete for a spot in the National Championships.

McCoy and her team had to take the first step and compete in the Zone 4 finals at the University of Virginia on April 6. McCoy took fifth overall in the Intermediate Fence, once again, helping Emory & Henry to a first-place finish in the team standings and qualify for the national championships in Syracuse.

“I was very excited and very nervous when I was at the national championship,” McCoy said. “I tried not to think about what was at stake, to stay calm I kept telling myself ‘I’ve been riding since I was four, it’s almost been my whole life.'”

She placed eighth in her event and Emory & Henry captured its fourth national IHSA team title, and its first since 2007.

While McCoy continues riding and preparing for this fall’s season, she gave some words of encouragement for new riders and people interested in horse riding as a sport.

“(Horse riding) takes a lot of skill and it’s harder than people think, “McCoy said. “My advice for new riders is to not give up and you will do a lot more than you think.”