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Aug. 25, 2011

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – As Gamecock senior Colvin Hedgepeth looks ahead to the 2011-2012 season, the Richmond, Va. native also discusses her new teammates and gives an inside look at this year’s squad. Last season, Hedgepeth competed in a career-high 18 meets, while earning a career-high 9 wins. Hedgepeth was recently elected co-captain, along with fellow senior Maggie Fortune.

How is the first week of practice going?
“The first week of practice is off to a good start; we are working on getting both horse and rider fit for the season. We are working without stirrups to quickly get back into shape but taking it slow with the horses so as not to overwork them. We have organized a new team ride schedule and I’m looking forward to holding a more productive and efficient Friday practice.”

What are your new teammates like?
“The freshmen are great! Our incoming class is similar to my freshman class, as it is a small group of girls. I’m excited about the group because they have quickly integrated into the team; they are very enthusiastic about this season and joining the Carolina family.”

You were elected Captain of the hunt seat team at the end of last season… what does it mean to you to be a Captain as a Senior?
“As a junior, I felt I had a leadership role on the hunt seat team being one of the oldest members who consistently showed. I’ve entered a whole new level of responsibility as Captain, but I feel prepared to take on this role. I am a goal-oriented individual, so I plan on challenging this team all year to push their limits and put us in a position to achieve our team objectives.”

How will you use your position as Captain to help out your fellow hunt seat riders?
“My main focus for the hunt seat team this year is opening the line of communication within the team. The western team has based their program off constructive feedback among teammates in practice and competition, which has clearly worked for them as evident by their success. I will encourage the hunt seat team to adopt this strategy, and hope that communication will put us a step ahead in the ring.”

The hunt seat team did not lose any regular competitors from last season, so do you think having so many returning riders will give the team an advantage?
“The hunt seat team was young last year; we lost seven starters the previous year so I now consider last season as a rebuilding year. This year, we return to competition with not only all of our regular competitors, but with new talent ready to enter the ring. I’m super excited that we have an experienced lineup for this season, and believe our confidence in each other will give us the advantage.”

You went from competing 9 times during the 2009-2010 season as a sophomore to competing 18 times as a junior in 2010-2011… what did you learn from competing so much last season?
“I was more successful my sophomore year, but being in the ring almost every competition last year gave me huge insight. I learned about myself as a competitor, and how I could prepare myself in four minutes to compete with confidence. I discovered what the coaches could do for me to help me perform at my best. I think the greatest lesson I gained from last season, that I hope to build on, is that you can’t hold each horse to the same standard; sometimes you just have to forget your strategy and let their movement/mindset define your ride.”

In order for the Hunt Seat team to achieve some of the goals the riders have set, what will be the biggest challenge for everyone to overcome?
“I think our attitude is our greatest obstacle. We can usually remain positive in the face of adversity, but when a meet results in a loss we need to be better in taking responsibility and growing from our mistakes instead of playing the blame game.”

The majority of last year’s team returns for 2011-2012, so with the growing pains of last season over with, what will this year’s team need to do to compete for a third national championship?
“We need to increase the intensity and continue to build off our experience. Once again, I am challenging every member of the team to push themselves in all team activities, whether it be workouts, practice, or competition. If we are always striving to be better, then our standard for greatness will be above the rest when it’s time to win the national championship.”

What would it mean to you to win a national championship as a senior?
“Like I said before, I’m a goal-oriented person. This is a goal that has been ingrained in my mind for over three years now, so to achieve this feat would be mind altering I guess you could say. To leave the team behind, after giving four years of hard work and heart, would be easier knowing I had helped to reach our ultimate goal.”