Oregon City equestrian coach: I welcome feedback on how to improve
I'm a mom, a coach and an equestrian. I'm writing to share my truth with you.
Over the past few months my work as a volunteer coach for the Oregon City High School Equestrian Team has been the subject of considerable coverage in this publication. I waited to respond until the state of Oregon had completed their review of the matter and now that it is final, I wanted the public to have a full understanding of the facts.
I agreed to serve as a volunteer coach for the team in 2014 because I know how important equestrian competition can be in a student's life. Preparing for competition requires hard work and discipline. It provides for connection to and care of animals, a skill that used to be essential for most people but is unavailable to most children today.
For several years prior, our family operated Wacker Performance Horses, a horse boarding and training facility in unincorporated Clackamas County. We offer classes, camps, and also host a 4-H Club.
Recent stories reported falsely that we lacked a required license for this business, but such a license is not required from the county. We had failed to register with the state because we understood it was not required when the business shares your family's name but did so recently when it was clarified that the business must also include your first name — not just your last.
When I agreed to serve as a volunteer coach for the Oregon City High School Equestrian Team, I was excited. I've seen the impact working with horses has had on my own children and countless others that have benefited from the lessons and camps we provide.
At the time, I looked to the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams for guidance. The statewide organization runs through high schools as a winter/spring sport. I was directed that it was acceptable to host team practices at our training facility and charge the school a small fee. This has been a common practice for equestrian coaches across Oregon. We agreed to take on the responsibility and offer our facility for team practices, even though the student fees are dramatically lower than what we otherwise charge for use of the arena.
When these practices were reported to the state, it was determined this guidance was not in line with state law. Recognizing their responsibility, OSHET will help pay the fine to resolve the matter. I will continue to serve as the volunteer coach under updated rules that comply with state law.
In hindsight, it is clear to me that I did not fully appreciate the conflicts and tensions that would arise when coaching a team of teenagers — many of those conflicts have now been explored publicly on the pages of this newspaper in recent months. I never showed favoritism towards my daughters in managing the team and they have earned the successes they have achieved in competition. I did fail to have their student accounts charged for using the facility because it did not make sense to me to charge myself and then receive money back from the school. I recognize now that is the correct procedure under state law.
As a coach, I always seek to do better. We can have a critical impact in the development of young people, and I welcome feedback on how to improve. With this matter now resolved by the state, I am looking forward to getting back to helping Oregon City students learn and grow through equestrian competition and being an active part of our local community.
Angie Wacker is the equestrian coach at Oregon City High School.
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