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A rare breed -- Alaska equestrian with a full ride college scholarship

Van Williams | Alaska Sports Hall of FameAlaska Sports Hall of Fame
17-year-old Kari Hancock, a senior at Anchorage's South High School, putting a saddle on her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall, on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
17-year-old Kari Hancock, a senior at Anchorage's South High School, putting a saddle on her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall, on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock and her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock riding her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Trainer Jaimie Thurman coaches Kari Hancock, riding her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall on an equestrian scholarship. April 25, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock talks with her mom Anne during an equestrian training at Diamond H Ranch. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock jumps her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall on an equestrian scholarship. April 25, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock and her horse Nick. Hancock will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock gets a hug from her horse Nick. Hancock and Nick will be traveling to Texas Christian University in the fall, where Hancock will be attending college on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kari Hancock and her horse Nick. Hancock and Nick will be traveling to Texas Christian University in the fall, where Hancock will be attending college on an equestrian scholarship. April 24, 2013
Loren Holmes photo

If you’re a young Alaskan and want to be recruited for college equestrian, you have two choices: Travel the country or get a YouTube account.

Just ask Anchorage’s Kari Hancock. The 17-year-old Alaska state champion handled her own public relations by creating a YouTube account and emailing links to colleges across the country in an effort to gain a coach’s attention.

“It’s a lot of sending in videos,” she told me. “I couldn’t travel Outside as much as other riders trying to make a college team, so I videotaped every single time I was in competition and tried to show Outside as much as possible, just to get that extra exposure.”

At first, Hancock started correspondence with a half dozen schools. Then it was narrowed down to Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University and Kansas State.

In the end, TCU contacted her.

Hancock, of South High in Anchorage, signed her letter of intent with the NCAA Division I school last week. But the offer came several weeks ago via email.

“I had woken up in the middle of the night and checked my phone because I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I saw an email and went screaming into my parent’s bedroom to wake them up to say that I had finally gotten a spot on a college equestrian team.”

It was 4 a.m.

Hancock has been a competitive equestrian rider for nearly nine years, winning multiple state championships along the way in addition to traveling to California for the big HITS Thermal competition, where she said she was top eight in almost every class.

Her horse is a thoroughbred named Nick.

“I spend every day with him,” Hancock said. “He’s been my best friend for the last seven years. He’s really jealous when I spend time with another horse. He has this huge personality; doesn’t let me get away with anything. It’s kind of funny – he’s almost more human than horse.”

Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at alaskasportshall@yahoo.com.