William Woods Graduates Help Capture Gold Medal

Three William Woods University graduates, Jamie Bender, Renee Biggins and Liz McBride Jones, contributed to the double gold medal success of the United States World Cup Equitation Team recently in Parys, South Africa.


Biggins, who graduated in 1983 and lives in Simpsonville, Ky., served as Three Gaited coach, and Jones, a 1975 graduate who lives in Raeford, N.C., served as Five Gaited coach. Both are proud of their riders’ success and team spirit at the competition, which was held in December.


Bender, a 2006 graduate from Omaha, Neb., overcame a knee injury last spring to make the Five Gaited team. She then helped the team go onto victory with successful rides during the final competition, competing against riders from Canada, Great Britain, Namibia and South Africa.


“I had a fabulous time, and I would go back to South Africa in a heartbeat,” said Bender.


Besides graduating two World Cup coaches and a rider, Bender feels that William Woods contributed to the team’s success by hosting the trials last spring.


“William Woods provides the venue and resources to hold tryouts in a way that allows the best team possible to be selected,” said Bender. “Indirectly, they contributed to the gold medals by helping us gather the strongest team.”


Being asked to host these tryouts is quite an honor, and WWU has done so ever since formal selections for the U.S. team began in 1996.


According to Gayle Lampe, professor of equestrian science and saddle seat instructor, William Woods is chosen to host the trials each year because of its ability to provide suitable horses for the event and the international reputation of its equestrian science program.

CUTLINE: Members of the Five Gaited Team, including William Woods University graduate Jamie Bender (third from left) show off their trophy.