FALL 2012 | St. Lawrence University Magazine
St. Lawrence’s sports footprint reaches
far beyond fields, courts and ice rinks.
The most successful program in Uni-
versity history has instead left a hoof
print – and a big one at that.
Few know the story of the Saints rid-
ing program. The walls of riding halls
across the country have concealed one
of St. Lawrence’s best-kept secrets. But
the tale of sacrifices made by hundreds
of student-athletes and their coaches
includes five Intercollegiate Horse
Show Association (IHSA) champion-
ships, the most recent last May, and
one Affiliated National Riding Cham-
From Novice to Advanced
One of the oldest sports programs
at St. Lawrence, and the first to be
coeducational, horseback riding was
officially established in 1927 and be-
came a physical education requirement
in 1938. It took until the mid- to late
s for riding to gain recognition as
an intercollegiate sport, recalls Marilyn
Cobb, former head coach and program
Cobb arrived at St. Lawrence in 1971
with her husband, Duane, who had
been hired as the new head coach. The
duo immediately took the team to the
top, winning the first national title, the
IHSA’s Cartier Cup, in 1973. Marilyn
Cobb took the reins in 1975 and won
national titles in 1976, 1977 and 1981,
earning legendary status nationwide
before retiring in 1993.
Riding is an outlet, and a lot of
students who took riding as part of
their phys ed requirement then began
competing,” she says. “As riding evolved
and grew more competitive, we were
able to guide the team up through the
ranks and be successful at that level for
many years.”
Top of the Class
Current head coach Mary Drueding
has built upon the program’s proud
history since her arrival in 1995. She
led the Saints to IHSA Reserve National
Champion titles in 2001, 2008 and
2011 (“
reserve” is equestrian-speak for
national runner-up) and has also guided
them to six IHSA national top-10 fin-
ishes and eight regional championships
since 2001. She coached the 1998
Affiliated National Riding Champion-
ships team and earned a reserve cham-
pionship in the Tournament of Cham-
pions. She has coached 10 riders to 13
individual national championships, as
well as numerous regional and zone
The St. Lawrence team with coach Mary Drueding, right, during the 2012 IHSA Nationals
Parade of Teams.
Jessi Thorne
The Few, the Proud, the Best’
riding team adds to success story of St. Lawrence’s
winningest sports program with sixth national championship
by Meg Bernier ’07, M’09
Best in the Nation
Emily D’Alessandro ’15, of Redding,
Conn., took the national individual
championship in intermediate equita-
tion on the flat during the first day of
competition at last May’s Intercolle-
giate Horse Show Association national
championships. She is the 22nd rider
in Saints competitive riding history to
win an individual national champion-
ship, and the third in two years. Later,
she helped her team to its sixth nation-
al championship, more than any other
St. Lawrence team has earned.