Bob Story has announced his retirement after 37 years serving as equestrian head coach and the architect of one of the most successful programs at the College of Charleston.
During his tenure from 1980 to 2018, he sculpted the program into one that was elite within the world of college equestrian teams. Story’s teams made 27 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championship Horse Show appearances since 1983, consistently placed in the Top 5 at nationals, won the IHSA Zone 5 Region 9 title 29 times and claimed the IHSA Zone 5 Championship title 10 times.
Back in 1980, Story became the head coach of the CofC equestrian program when it was a club team on campus. It was later elevated to a varsity program in 1989 when former College of Charleston President Harry Lightsey tapped equestrian to be the team to bring the College into NCAA Division I compliance.
Since then, the equestrians have boasted 21 individual national champions including Eliza Hay and Victoria Bauer – both winning the Cacchione Cup, the sport’s highest honor bestowed upon the nation’s best collegiate rider – in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
With the sport emerging on a national level back in the early 1990s, former CofC President Leo Higdon took an interest in the program as it consistently beat teams such as South Carolina, Clemson and Florida. With that success over bigger schools and making headlines in the local newspaper, it made sense to make the move from NAIA to NCAA Division I.
“The College of Charleston has gone through leaps and bounds since I’ve been here,” Story said. “I would like to thank former President Harry Lightsey and President Leo Higdon for making a huge commitment to the College and our equestrian program when athletics moved to NCAA Division I.
“The move allowed us to increase our roster size, grow the sport and attract athletes, who helped us consistently compete for national championships. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish and the athletes we produced during my 37 years leading the program at CofC.”
The equestrian program also won three reserve national championships in 1989, 1991 and 2014 under Story.