Meghan Boenig came to Georgia in October of 2001 as the first head coach of the Georgia equestrian program. During her time with the Bulldogs, Boenig has led the program to unprecedented heights including five national titles, six Southern Equestrian Championships, and three Reserve Championships. Boenig also helped lead the charge of having Varsity Equestrian restructure to the National Collegiate Equestrian Association in the fall of 2011.
Boenig lead the 2011-12 equestrian team to a regular season record of 11-2, a 10-meet win streak, a No. 1 ranking and its second Reserve National Championship. Along the way, the Bulldogs defeated nine ranked teams, including a season-sweep of Auburn and South Carolina. The Bulldogs finished second at the Southern Equestrian Championship before claiming its third Reserve Championship and second in as many years.
During the 2010-11 campaign, the Bulldogs again were competing for a championship, when they took on Southeastern Conference for Auburn in the finals of the VENC National Championship. Georgia came away with its second Reserve Championship, falling 51-49 to the Tigers. The Bulldogs defeated Auburn in the Western Division to finish third overall in the discipline, but Auburn edged Georgia on the Hunt Seat side.
The 2010-11 campaign was just the latest testament to their greatness, but it was also evidence of the growing state of competitiveness within their sport.
Georgia spent the first months of the season finding its way but the Bulldogs closed their season by winning yet another national crown. This time they needed the first "ride-off" in the sport's history to edge Texas A&M in the overall standings. In addition, two Georgia hunt seaters, Michelle Morris and Emma Lipman, claimed individual championships, the third and fourth such honors in Georgia history.
In just eight seasons Boenig has made great strides in developing Georgia's equestrian program from Square One. The number of riders has tripled from 24 to near 70, while the number of horses has more than quadrupled going from 12 to over 60. In addition, the staff has grown from Boenig, on her own, to seven full-time members.
She galloped through her first seasons at Georgia with trailblazing success, winning national titles in both of the program's first two years on the varsity level. In 2002-03, she coached the University's first varsity team to the national crown at the VENC in College Station, Texas. The next year she steered her team to a dramatic comeback at the VENC, held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga.
Boenig first began to work her magic on Georgia's club team. When she arrived in Athens in the fall of 2001, her mandate was to bring the club team through the transitional 2001-02 season and elevate the equestrian program to a varsity level. She accomplished the task with flair, leading the Bulldogs to the first of three straight English discipline titles at the precursor to the inaugural VENC held in 2002 in Gainesville, Fla.
During the transitional year Boenig hired a coaching staff, selected the first team, and began selling the sport to the Bulldog Nation. In succeeding years, much of her administrative focus turned to facilities and development.
Her attention to the latter concern led to Georgia's palatial home in nearby Bishop, Ga., in 2009. The 109-acre layout gives her team the finest training and competition facility of its kind in America. It also fulfilled a twofold dream of Boenig's that began back in the early days: to give her team a place to call "home" and to ease the burden upon the University's Animal Science department, which owned the property where the Bulldogs had begun their program.
Beyond Athens, Boenig is heavily involved in shaping the development of varsity equestrian, which is classified as an "emerging" sport by the NCAA. She serves on the Varsity Steering Committee that governs the sport through biannual coaches' meetings and has been its Chairperson for two seasons. She was also a leading advocate for the bracketed tournament format that is currently in existence.
Boenig initiated varsity equestrian's departure from the meet format associated with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), under whose auspices Georgia competed in 2003. She helped introduce the dual-meet format that SEC schools now use, competing by proposed NCAA rules designed to make the sport more competitive and fan-friendly.
Boenig is a 1999 graduate of Berry College where she earned her bachelor's degree in Biology. Prior to her arrival at Georgia in October of 2001, she spent two years as an assistant coach at Texas A&M during which time she also earned a master's degree in Animal Science.
Her two seasons at Texas A&M were deciding factors in her hiring as the Bulldogs' inaugural head coach. Georgia sought a coach with the knowledge of working hand-in-hand with a university's Animal Science community in forging a new equestrian team, something the Aggies had enjoyed during her tenure there.
A native of Powder Springs, Ga., the former Meghan Nolan is married to Markus Boenig. The couple is proud parents of two sons, Josef and Mathew.