Jones County Junior College sophomore and biology major from Hattiesburg Katelyn Stone will be the first junior/community college transfer to commit to Mississippi College’s equestrian team. MC head coach Mandi Powers said she is excited to have Stone join the team, which she initiated in 2007.
“We are thrilled to have Katelyn make this connection, joining the team which will help build the program. Katelyn is the first JUCO transfer to our knowledge,” said Powers. “A large percentage of our students come from out of state, so it is nice to have a transfer student from Mississippi, keeping the in-state connection.
“MC provides an average of $15,000 per student covering all travel expenses, coaching, boarding horses, etc. In most schools, this is a club sport and the student is responsible for all costs involved with competing and training. Katelyn won’t have to worry about any of that.”
Coach Powers said Stone came to the Mississippi College Winter Prospect Clinic in December. While she has grown up with horses and western riding, she did not have a lot of experience in the English Hunt Seat.
The MC equestrian team has 25 members with 15 new members joining the team in the fall. At Stone’s signing ceremony, her father Chuck shared that he is confident his daughter will quickly adjust and succeed.
“Katelyn took her first horse ride at age 3 and was a natural. She rode off in the field and she never looked back. She only had a bridle and rode that horse like an experienced rider. Katelyn has always been very intuitive,” he said.
Stone’s passion for horses deepened while helping with the care of about 200 rescue horses at a farm near her Hattiesburg home. The South Jones High School graduate’s desire to rehabilitate her favorite animal also led to the idea of rehabilitating her friend Beth. Having an inoperable brain tumor and battling depression, Beth joined Stone on the horse farm. While watching her friend care for the horses, Stone realized both the horses and Beth could benefit from the interaction.
Now Stone’s goal is to establish an equine therapy program in Hattiesburg. Being a part of the MC equestrian team brings her closer to making that dream come true, she said.
“Being on the Mississippi College team means the world to me. I have always thought English equestrian disciplines were beautiful and wanted to participate in the sport, but I never had any idea that was an option for me,” Stone said. “When I found out about the MC team, I was moved to tears because I immediately knew where I was supposed to be.
“I’m so excited to learn more about riding and horse training from the excellent coaches. I can see myself taking the knowledge and experience gained from being on the team and using it towards my lifelong passion for horses and even to further my goal of horse rehabilitation.”
Other accolades Stone has been awarded recently at Jones include being selected as a Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and the All-Mississippi Academic First Team.
At JCJC, Stone also serves at the PTK vice president of Fellowship and was chosen as JCJC’s Most Beautiful, a Tullos Scholar, Freshman Class Favorite and she earned the Letter “J” Award.
— By Teresa McCreery, JCJC Public Relations