Dec 04, 2018

Brenda Jarrell: USEA's Volunteer of the Month Presented by Athletux

By Mikaela Kantorowski - Athletux Equine
Photo courtesy of Brenda Jarrell.

It always helps to see a warm and friendly face when heading to warm up for that all-important test or jump round. In this series, the United States Evening Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to feature those around us who help make these events happen, the volunteers. Without them horse shows and programs could not succeed, and these volunteers go above and beyond to make sure every rider feels comfortable and confident. Do you know a volunteer who should be nominated as Volunteer of the Month? We are looking for our next feature. Email your tips to [email protected].

Brenda Jarrell grew up like most other young girls and she wanted one thing: a pony. Unfortunately for her, a pony was out of the cards and she got a fish instead. It wasn’t long though before she began saving up for riding lessons - they were $17. After that, Jarrell was hooked. Fast forward a few years and now Jarrell is one of the most important members of the Area I and USEA community and more than deserving of this month’s Volunteer of the Month nomination.

While Jarrell was always in love with the sport of eventing, it was when her daughters Rebecca and Erica became even more heavily involved in the sport that, naturally, Jarrell did too. In 2016, Erica, Jarrell’s middle child, was the first to declare the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) as her goal and a storybook run later, Erica not only qualified for but also won gold with her Area I team in that year’s one-star championship.

Jarrell with her daughter, Erica, at the 2016 NAJYRC. Photo courtesy of Brenda Jarrell.

Jarrell fondly recalled, “Erica set a very ambitious schedule for herself but she qualified and then to see the team come together at the championships was amazing. I truly believe the girls on the team not only rode for themselves but also for each other, and it showed in their performance. I am an Olympics junkie and seeing them being able to compete as a team was amazing.” That was Jarrell’s first taste and involvement in assisting the Young Rider Program and her involvement grew as did the number of children she had participating. After Erica's golden performance, Jarrell’s son, Will, Erica’s kid brother, decided he wanted to join in on the fun too. That meant that Jarrell had not only one but two children competing, so once again naturally she became more involved and learned more about what it took to run a program as successful as Area I's.

The following year in 2017, both Will and Erica competed on the Area I NAJYRC one-star team and Jarrell was lucky enough to assist longtime Young Rider Coordinator Deb Meeks. When she heard Meeks was stepping down, Jarrell never thought she would be asked to fill her role, but that is exactly what happened. Now, Jarrell is the current Young Rider Coordinator for Area 1 and everything she has been able to accomplish in just one year at the helm is pretty incredible. Her dedication to the program is unmatched and she does it all on top of her day job as a partner in a law firm in Boston and riding alongside her children.

Just this year, Jarrell implemented the hugely successfully Acts of Kindness campaign to help raise funds for the program. She explained, “I actually got a lot of my ideas from my daughter Erica and her rugby team at Harvard, as the team bonding there is huge, but this idea actually just came to me while I was driving home from work one day.” The idea of the program is to help both the kids and the donors. Each donor sends in what good deed they want to see done and their sponsorship amount and then Jarrell puts pen to paper and selects members of the Young Rider Team to complete the task. In just the inaugural year of the program, it raised over $14,000, and was “a testament to the community and these kids,” Jarrell added.

Area I Young Rider Team members Carina Erickson and Will Jarrell performing one of the team's "acts of kindness." Photo courtesy of Brenda Jarrell.

While she gives credit to those around her, like team coach Buck Davidson, for helping make her year as Coordinator so successful, it is those she works with that praise Jarrell for her dedication to the program and its members. One member added, “Having Jarrell head up this program has been amazing. She is always there when we need her and not only does she try and do everything she can to help us reach our goals, but she is always there as a support system as well.” All members of the Area I Young Rider Program echo this statement and they all agree, Jarrell has done amazing things for the program.

When asked what she loves most about the sport, Jarrell paused before responding, “As a parent, watching your kid and their horse out there in sync, especially when you know it’s been a struggle and how hard they work, is just an incredible feeling. Really any kid, every single member of the Young Rider Program is so special, but even more so when it is your own kid. That is just amazing.” Jarrell also added, “I am just in love with the sport on so many levels and even my husband, who isn’t horsey at all, wanted the kids to keep riding too!” It really is easy to tell how much passion she has for her job and the sport of eventing when you chat with her, something so amazing to see.

Over the next year, Jarrell has more ambitious goals for the program and there is no doubt the Area I program is better off for having someone like her at the helm. Jarrell is committed to 2019 and she is excited to continue to work her hardest to make the program a success. It is people like Jarrell that help grow the youth of the sport and they are vital to its success. We salute every Young Rider Coordinator and especially Jarrell for all they do. Jarrell shows no signs of slowing down so be sure to be on the lookout for her in 2019 and when you do see her, give her a huge thank you because eventing would not be the same without her!

Do you know someone who should be recognized as a Volunteer of the Month? We are looking for our next feature. Email your tips to [email protected]

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