Not too many Long Island student-athletes can say they graduated this spring as a two-time national champion.
But Center Moriches High School alumna Ericka Koscinski is just that — having won back-to-back titles with Auburn University’s equestrian team in 2018 and 2019. She and her Tiger teamates were ranked No. 1 in the country this spring and looking to ride to a third title before they were upset in the playoff tournament.
Koscinski, who grew up riding horses on the family farm and competing, enjoyed a wildly successful stint at Auburn. Both in the classroom and as a Jumping Seat for the powerhouse equestrian team.
In May, Koscinski collected the team’s Unsung Hero Award. It’s a pretty notable recognition, especially considering the team’s slogan that they shout together before every meet: “A-U-E-T work, hard work!” During each of her four years at Auburn, she earned a place on the Southeast Conference Honor Roll. In 2021, she made it to the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Honor Roll.
“This has been an unforgettable experience,” Koscinski said in a feature story about her on the team’s website. “It has been the best four years I could have asked for. I’ve made so many great friends and have loved everything about being in Auburn … I’m so thankful to have been a part of something so extraordinary.”
Skill and determination
Koscinski was an ideal blend of talent and work ethic, said one of her coaches, in the same report.
“Ericka’s riding ability and understanding of riding different horses is outstanding, but her work ethic and desire to jump in and make her teammates better is what really stands out,” Auburn associate head coach Jessica Braswell said. “It is very competitive here and that is a challenge Ericka wanted to take on.”
Koscinski credited hard work for the tremendous success of Auburn’s equestrian program.
“I think we’ve been so successful because the work we do every day has brought us together as a team,” said Koscinski, who plans to work in the horse industry for a year before heading to dental school. “I take pride in getting the horses ready for meet day. Others take pride getting the tack ready and bathing the horses to make sure they are taken care of.
“We set our own jumps course prior to meets, and we love looking back at it after it’s complete and taking pride in how it looks,” she continued. “When you work as hard as we do, the rewards continue to come.”
Braswell noted that it’s going to be difficult not having Koscinski as part of the team next year.
“We love how she helps to prepare horses and prepare her teammates,” she said in the Auburn University website story. “One of the greatest things about her is that the underclassmen have gotten a chance to learn from her. They have seen what happens when you buy in to the team and work towards a common goal. I think watching her has prepared them to step up in her absence next year.”