March 12, 2009

 

By Amy Farnum Novin
NCAA.com

There have been a lot of changes to the Texas Christian University rifle program since Karen Monez took over five years ago. 

Despite a lengthy history, the Horned Frogs’ had never advanced to the NCAA Championships until three years ago, and this year the team is hosting the event – the first NCAA Championship the school has hosted in any sport. 

Two years ago, TCU finished fifth at nationals, and then took third place last year, and this season’s squad boasts four of the same student-athletes that have turned the Frogs into a national contender. Juniors Erin Lorenzen, Emily Paper, Simone Riford and Lauren Sullivan are now seasoned veterans, while freshman Mattie Brogdon has been an outstanding addition as a counter in both air rifle and smallbore all year.

Monez had never coached before when she took the TCU job, but she certainly knew about talented shooters after being involved in the sport for over 35 years as a competitor in various shooting disciplines.  She holds two world records in air rifle and standard rifle, and won the gold medal at the 1979 World Championship in women’s air rifle in Seoul, Korea.  She believes that experience helped her attract top-notch shooters and raise the talent level of the team.

“I truly have a passion for the sport of competitive shooting,” said Monez.  “I hope that’s influenced some of the girls and they pick up on that desire to do well.”

In addition to recruiting, Monez concentrated on upgrading equipment in order to develop the program into a national contender.

“To compete at the national championship level and be competitive, you have to have the best gear,” said Monez.  “Equipment is huge in this sport.”

One unique aspect of the TCU rifle program is that it is one of the only all-female squads in the nation, and the only one competing in the eight-team field at NCAA Championships this year.  The other participants - Alaska Anchorage, Army, Jacksonville State, Kentucky, Navy, Nevada and West Virginia – are all co-ed programs.

“What’s kind of unique about this sport is that male or female – there just isn’t an advantage,” said Monez.  “There’s no strength advantage – we emphasize muscle, but strength does not play a part in it.  Tall, short, heavy set, slight build – it doesn’t play a factor in whether you can shoot that world class level score.  It’s pretty much an even playing field in this game.”

Monez says that non-gender characteristics like dedication and self-discipline are what counts in the sport of rifle.

“It takes a lot of dedication to come in here day after day and see how still you can hold yourself, how you can control your muscles so you can be as steady as possible with this rifle,” said Monez.  “In that sense, it’s totally different than your speed sports or strength sports.  It takes self-disciple, and incredible concentration and focus to look through those sites and be as steady and focused as possible.”

The Horned Frogs will host the 2009 NCAA Championships March 13-14.  Friday's smallbore competition will be held all day in the TCU rifle range, located in the ROTC building, while Saturday's air rifle events are in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

“The air rifle championships will be held in Daniel-Myer Coliseum, which is our basketball arena, and that will take it to another level,” said Monez.  “We have large screens that will display the targets of all the shooters.  The spectators can see that shots as they are being fired and they are scored instantly.  When a championship is on the line, it is pretty exciting.”