Providence’s Kali Retzler lands equestrian scholarship to Kansas State
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media November 13, 2013 9:12PM
Providence athletic director Doug Ternik (from left), Kali Retzler and school principal Donald Sebestyen share a moment Wednesday as Retzler signs a National Letter of Intent with Kansas State. | Supplied photo
Updated: December 15, 2013 11:53AM
From horsing around to a National Letter of Intent, Providence senior Kali Retzler has taken an unconventional path to a Division I athletics program.
Retzler, a Homer Glen resident, will attend Kansas State on an equestrian scholarship.
“I’ve been getting a lot of weird faces,” Retzler said. “It was a shock to a lot of my friends that they even have NCAA scholarships for horseback riding.”
Retzler signed her National Letter of Intent Wednesday at Providence.
“I’m going to sleep very good (Wednesday night),” she said. “There’s a lot of weight off my shoulders with knowing where I’m going to college.”
That’s because she had plenty of choices.
The Providence senior received interest from Alabama, Auburn and Oklahoma State, but she insisted the Wildcats remained No. 1 on her list throughout the recruitment process.
According to the National Collegiate Equestrian Association, there are 22 NCAA programs that offer equestrian programs. Kansas State ranked seventh on the NCEA’s latest poll.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get any sort of response from coaches at all, but when I got multiple responses, I was overjoyed,” Retzler said. “Then I realized I had to pick which one I liked the best, which was scary.”
Retzler said her recruitment really started to gain steam at the start of the school year after a strong showing at the National Youth Activity Team Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
“I placed 12th throughout the day and there were over 1,900 people there,” Retzler said. “It was a tough competition, but it was definitely really fun. It spurred a lot of interest from colleges to come in.”
Her previous track record didn’t hurt, along with her recent dominance at the Illinois Reigning Horse Association, where Retzler mounted championships in the Youth, Green Horse Reserve, Green Rider 1, Green Rider 2, Rookie 1 and Rookie 2 riding divisions.
Retzler, who sometimes practices from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. during competition weeks, also received some privileged information regarding the Kansas State program.
One of Retzler’s riding friends, Lincoln-Way North graduate Allysa Lombardi, also is on the team.
“She told me some inside views about the program and what to expect coming from Chicago to a place like that,” Retzler said. “I’m really excited and thankful for everyone’s support.”