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Oct. 30, 2008

Written by Megan Holt, South Carolina Media Relations

Since they were little, Lydia and Rebekah Roof have been passionate about riding and showing horses.

“Every little girl wants a pony,” Rebekah said. “I happened to get one when I was seven and started riding for fun. Around nine or ten, I started showing and it has grown from there.”

As kids, the Roof sisters brought their horses to the South Carolina Equestrian club team for the Gamecocks to ride.

After graduating from Lexington High School, Rebekah chose to stay near home and enrolled at South Carolina for its renowned business program and promising equestrian team.

Although Rebekah didn’t go to far from home, she did have a lot of adjusting to do.

“When we compete, before college, it is a very individual sport,” Rebekah said. “When you come to Carolina, you are suddenly on a team. That is an experience most of us aren’t used to, unless we’ve played another sport. I enjoy the camaraderie and being with the girls and traveling with them.”

In just two short years, she had a championship ring on her finger. Rebekah is hoping to wrap up her senior year with a second ring.

Lydia graduated two years after Rebekah and decided to pack her backs and head out west to Texas. She enrolled at Stephen F. Austin University for its Agriculture program and joined the equestrian team.

“I’ve always wanted to ride after high school, because there is nothing I like to do better,” Lydia said. “Throughout high school, I always thought I’d go to Carolina and ride. But, I’ve always wanted to be an Ag major and Carolina didn’t have a program.”

Her time at SFA was cut short, though, as the school decided to cut the equestrian program only weeks before school ended. Lydia couldn’t imagine not riding, so she gave South Carolina head coach Boo Duncan a call.

“I was close with all the girls at Carolina,” Lydia said. “I called up the coach and asked if she was interested in having me. She said of course and I signed as soon as possible.”

Lydia enjoys being back and competing at a higher level.

“I am very happy to be back,” Lydia said. “So far I love it a lot better here. It’s a lot more competitive. The girls are great and it is a team that every other team wants to beat.”

Both sisters are setting the standard high this season, working towards winning another national championship. Rebekah is hoping to put another ring on her finger. As for Lydia, “I want that ring that Rebekah has.”

The Roof sisters are carrying on a Gamecock tradition. Their grandfather played Gamecock baseball, their father worked as a GA coach for South Carolina football and their mom graduated from the South Carolina nursing school.

“Being a Gamecock is a part of where we come from and who we are,” Rebekah said. Lydia agrees, “It is in our blood.”