Meet senior hunt seat rider Liza Finsness for the 2016-2017 SEC Champion Georgia equestrian team, who sat down to talk about UGA, the equestrian sport and more.
Why did you choose the University of Georgia?
“UGA was the only school I considered that had NCEA Equestrian. When I came on my official visit, I knew I fit right in with the team. I was so impressed that I canceled my applications to all other schools. I knew there was no other school for me.”
What does “Commit To The G” mean to you?
“Commit To The G” means that you invest yourself in Georgia, bleeding red and black. It means you identify yourself as a Bulldog and represent UGA with everything you do.”
How does the theme of “Out Work. Out Ride. Out Last. #Everyday” motivate you?
“It encourages me to improve myself each day. It gets me to focus on details and set individual goals instead of skipping ahead to the end goal of a championship. ”
Who has had the most influence on your athletic career? Why?
“My parents—they have supported me the whole way both financially and mentally. They love to watch me ride and they even get more nervous for my rounds than I do. It definitely shows how much they care and how much they want me to do well for myself.”
What is your most memorable moment in sports?
“I’ve had so many memorable moments both with my horses at home and with the team. For the team, the most memorable moment is winning nationals my freshman year. I’ve never felt so stressed watching those last few rides in the Western pen, and I’m pretty sure I grew a couple grey hairs and lost a good decade of my life because of it. When we realized we won I cried with the rest of my team. Being able to share that moment with my team was beyond amazing because we knew all of our hard work that year had paid off.”
Do you have a nickname on the team?
“A lot of people call me Fins. I think my friend Madison on the team started it, but anyway it stuck and I love it; it’s kind of like a trademark.”
What is your ride out song and why?
“For jumping, I have Gavin Degraw’s “She Sets the City on Fire” because it pumps me up with that opening line “Everybody knows she’s a perfect 10.” And for flat I have “All Star” by Smashmouth because it’s a classic and it gives the crowd energy.”
What is your favorite place on campus?
“I love the Intermural fields and walking around Lake Herrick. On a nice day there isn’t a better place.”
What’s your favorite restaurant in Athens?
“There are so many awesome restaurants that I can’t pick one! But Five Bar, Pauley’s Crepe bar, and Shokitini are definitely at the top of my list.”
What is your favorite TV show/movie?
“My favorite TV show pretty much changes with each Netflix series I watch, but definitely Friends and New Girl are toward the top. Right now I’m re-watching “That 70’s Show,” which no one thinks to watch anymore, but it’s fantastic. I guess you can say I like the sitcoms.”
What’s your favorite song or artist?
“I hate to be that person who says she loves all music, but I really think I do. Put on any song that’s not heavy metal or screamo and I’ll dance along. My favorite band is probably Cherub though.”
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
“I’d love to go to Europe! The only time I have gone was on a family vacation when I was two…so that simply doesn’t count. I would really love to visit Italy, France, England, or Greece, so maybe one day I’ll take a trip out there and country-hop.”
If you were stranded on a deserted island what three things would you bring?
“Of course I would bring my horse, Shiver. I’d bring the book Wilderness Survival for Dummies (yes, this exists, I looked it up). And last I would bring a hatchet because I hear those are useful.”
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
“There are definitely people who will disagree, but I have some killer dance moves. Tips to the dancers out there: it’s all about the facial expression.”
Who or what influenced the start of your riding career?
“My family was taking a trip to a Dude Ranch in Arizona when I was about 5. My mom thought it would be smart to take lessons before we go. Little did she know those walk-trot lessons would turn into blood, sweat, tears and Championships.”