After sitting at the USEA Awards luncheon last month, seeing the many awards and grants being handed out, I was compelled to write about the Rebecca Broussard grants, the meaning of being selected and what it truly means as a recipient.
I couldn’t help but start to tear up when the famous Jimmy Wofford’s signature voice announced, “And now we will announce the recipients of the Rebecca Broussard Grants”. Not only did it remind me about being a past recipient, but knowing that someone would be receiving the same leg up in their career as I did made a stream of emotions run through me.
I don’t believe that the meaning behind these grants is common knowledge within all of the members of the United States Eventing Association. I believe that if you were to ask most members who have not been directly involved with the process of the criteria to become a recipient of the Rebecca Broussard Grants, for the most part, most would think or say it is to help the riders take their riding to the next level and to be able to help them broaden their skills nationally and internationally. Although this is a key purpose, there are many more pieces involved.
The Land Rover and the Jacqueline B. Mars grants are issued to riders to help broaden their expertise as well as their horse's expertise in competitions, both nationally and internationally. These grants have been imperative in my own career and have enabled me to gain experience that I would not have otherwise been able to have. Experience that I feel has been absolutely critical in getting me to where I am now.
But what the Rebecca Broussard Grant gave me was something much more detailed from the core of my being. The grant served as inspiration to get better as an athlete, rider, and competitor, and additionally, the grant sparked internal pondering of how it is that I could help the sport. What can I do to inspire people? What can I do to give back to the sport? What can I do to make Becky Broussard, the Broussard family, and the US Foundation committee proud that they invested in me? There was a sense of personal accountability for giving back to a sport that has done so much for me. I think sometimes, when you are younger, you focus on you and when you are older, you can focus on giving back.
I think Mrs. Becky Broussard exhibited the true meaning of what our sport was founded on, and that was giving. I think it is easy to buy great horses, and give money to great riders to further their careers, but what will those riders do to give back? What will they feel responsible for in keeping our sport a giving-back-or-pay-it-forward type of sport? How can we keep that a mainstay in the sport that was founded on those core values?
There is a thorough interview process with a committee comprised of legends in our sport. Most of the main committee is comprised of people who are examples of what giving back truly means. Past USEA Presidents, USEA Foundation members, and committee members, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and people who have been huge staples in our sport for longer than I have been a rider. The committee also contains past Rebecca Broussard Grant recipient riders. The detail and scrutiny that is involved when picking the next recipient is far more intricate than you can ever imagine. I love that we have such a due process because it means that the recipients who receive these grants are people willing and able to make their own contribution to a sport that gives so much.
It wasn’t until after I received the "Big Becky" Grant in 2015 that I even realized the amount of thought that went into these grants; it made me even more appreciative and honored, not just for receiving the "Little Becky" Grant, but the "Big Becky" Grant as well. It instilled a belief in me that I needed at the time. I was told I could and would never make it in this sport because I was a wife and mother with not enough personal financial backing. People told me I had no business even trying to have a horse and ride at the upper levels, and that I would never be able to afford a horse that was good enough to be a player at the top of the sport.
Receiving the "Little Becky" Grant in 2012 ignited a fire in me that had slowly been smoldering. It infused something in me that made me want to fight to become what I always wanted to be: a rider who represented the United States as a wife, mother, and West Coast rider and someone who could defy the odds of not having the right horses or the finances to even belong. Someone who had struggled through many trials and tribulations personally and never gave up. Someone who didn’t get to have my career in my 20s because I was a single mother who had to work a full-time job with health benefits, someone who could mentor and inspire other riders to become educated, confident, and hard-working individuals, and still strive to become top-class riders working hard to achieve their dreams and goals.
You see, to become a Rebecca Broussard Grant recipient, you must not only have an ability to ride and show potential to represent the United States someday, but you must also have a thoughtful spirit— a giving spirit — one who wants to give back what has been given to you. You must have a plan of how to help our sport and the people coming up in the sport. This individual is one who gives without needing recognition, someone who volunteers at events without anyone really knowing. Becky would do that. She would help throughout Area VII eventing with jump judging and you never knew she was doing it.
I think the diversity of the Big and Little Becky Grant recipients is very unique and proof that the USEA Foundation is getting it right. Riders are becoming more aware of how to give back if they didn’t quite understand what that meant before. They are able to hold themselves in high regard and can think of the big picture.
It’s been an honor to not only be a recipient of these grants, but also to be someone who can have a very small part in helping Becky’s legacy live on.
That is what the Rebecca Broussard Grants did for me and I hope everyone who aspires to be a recipient understands the big picture of this tremendous lady and family and their dedication to giving back to a sport that has given so much to all of us.
I feel all too often today, especially as time goes on and years pass, awards and grant recipients can lose sight a bit about who or what was behind a given award, and I hope people can take a step back to not only appreciate the process, but also the bigger meaning behind it all, because that in itself is what not only makes the Rebecca Broussard Grants so special, it is what makes so many of the wonderful awards in our sport important.
To learn more about the Rebecca Broussard Developing Rider Grants, visit the USEA Foundation website.
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This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).