ALTON – In his 35 years as an educator, Alton High School Athletic Director Jeff Alderman cannot recall any instances of an equestrian signing with a division one college.

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That chain was broken this Monday morning as AHS senior Maddie Rubin signed her letter of intent to ride horses as a student athlete at the University of Tennessee in Martin.

Alongside her parents, John and Lisa Rubin, little sister, grandfather and surrounded by her friends, Rubin made one of the most important decisions of her life as she signed on the dotted line. The decision to join the team at UTM came easily to the young equestrian.

“I toured a few schools, but the second I stepped on the campus, I felt right at home,” she said. “The coach was awesome and I got to meet some of the girls on the team. I was able to go to a clinic down there. The girls were all awesome. I’m super excited to be able to get back with the girls that I met who were incoming freshmen this year.”

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AHS Principal Matt Bellm and Assistant Superintendent Kristie Baumgartner were also on hand to celebrate Maddie’s accomplishment as she signed with her university.

As a UTM Skyhawk, Rubin will be competing in a specialization called horsemanship, where the rider will be judged on form, style and ability.

“It’s western, so you’ll see the chaps and the hat,” Rubin said. “Right now, I’m doing a little bit of everything, but horsemanship has always been my favorite.  I’m very excited to be able to do that these next four years.”

Equestrianism as a college sport in a Division I school is slightly out of the norm, but Rubin was happy to find a place she could call home.

“It’s definitely uncommon,” she said. “We had to find them. We went down there and did clinics, toured the schools and talked to the coaches. From there, they had to reach back out to us.”

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