Willis Family Equestrian Center Phase I Dedication - 10/20/2006
Email Coach White: Ellen_White@baylor.edu
Ellen White just ended her seventh season as Baylor's head equestrian coach. White has led the program to six straight Varsity Equestrian National Championship appearances, including a third place overall finish in 2012. As the Hunter Seat coach, she coached the team to the 2012 National title after finishing third in 2011, its previous best finish. After placing eighth in 2006 and 2007, she led the Bears to a program-best sixth in 2008. White, an internationally recognized dressage trainer, was selected as the first head coach in the history of Baylor's women's equestrian program in 2005.
White led her squad to its first ever Big 12 Championship in 2010, defeating Texas A&M for the title during the four-team tournament.
Baylor finished its fourth full season of competition in 2009 with a great amount of success, including a program-best finish in Hunt Seat at the VENC, which BU hosted for the fourth consecutive year. Baylor's hunter seat team posted its best-ever finish (fifth), while the Western squad placed seventh at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex. The Bears' previous best finishes were sixth in 2008 while the Western squad was fifth in 2007. On Feb. 24, 2009, the Bears had another program first after garnering a No. 1 ranking in the Women's Intercollegiate Equestrian National Coaches Poll.
The school's equestrian team began its first year of competition with the 2005-2006 academic year. Under White's guidance Baylor posted its first head-to-head win in program history against South Dakota State; the program went on to go 3-2 in head-to-head shows. During the fall, White led Baylor to its first- ever top finish in IHSA competition as the English team tied for first with Oklahoma State at Texas A&M's 2005 English IHSA show in November. Year two and three saw the team finish eighth in the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.
White joined the Baylor staff from Waco's Willow Spring Farm, which she has owned and managed for the past 25 years. She is involved in all phases of the farm's operation: breeding, buying and selling horses, and providing training and lessons in both dressage and jumping. White also serves as an instructor for the American Pony Club Association & Junior Young Rider throughout the Lone Star state.
In April 2006, an F-1 tornado destroyed White's home as well as barns, horse stalls, sheds and Baylor's show arena, leaving the equestrian program's facilities inoperable. In a coincidence of events, Baylor's Board of Regents had approved construction just a week earlier of the Willis Family Equestrian Center which would include a covered arena with stalls, a barn, fenced in paddocks and an office building housing staff offices, locker rooms, training rooms and meeting rooms. Phase one of the project shows competion of the covered arena with stalls, barn, fenced in paddocks and an office building housing staff offices. Phase two of the project is slated to being in the near future.
Still training with internationally known clinicians and Olympians, White was awarded U.S. Dressage Federation silver (1992) and gold (1999) medals, captured Selle Francais Horse of the Year honors three times (1992, 1993 and 1994) and won USDF Horse of the Year honors in 1993. White received qualifying scores for the U.S. Olympic Festival and Pan American Games, and she also was invited to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in dressage.
"I wish Ellen well," said Mary D'Arcy O'Connell, coach of the 2000 and 2004 Irish Olympic 3-day event team. "She is a very positive and encouraging person. I believe she will be a great addition to the Baylor family."
In addition to her outstanding competition record, White's farm has won numerous breeding awards. A 17-year host to Oldenburg/ISR inspections, White's horses have received national awards including Meshach (2nd place Oldenburg/ISR Mature Stallion) and Ominous (2nd place USDF Yearling Filly Awards). Her stallion Caleb earned the 2004 reserve champion award for the ISR 100-day Stallion Test.
A 1981 Baylor graduate (Bachelor of Arts in economics/journalism), White and her husband of 27 years, Greg, reside in Waco and have two children: Cara White Clark, 23, of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelby, 21. The Whites are active members of Waco's Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. White has spent 16 years as a children's supervisor in Bible Study Fellowship and six years as a substitute teaching leader.
Women's equestrian is the Big 12's fastest-growing sport with teams added at Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Kansas State since 1999. The Big 12 Conference, beginning in 2009, added equestrian as a league sport.