The only head coach in program history, Tana McKay is in her 15th season at the helm of the 11-time and defending national champion Texas A&M equestrian team.
During her time in Aggieland, she has taken the team from club sport status -- overseen by the animal science department -- to arguably the most decorated athletic-department-sponsored equestrian program in the country. The Aggies have won nine western riding team national championships in addition to capturing the overall NCEA National Championship title in 2012 and the first-ever overall Varsity Equestrian National Championship in 2002.
McKay has guided A&M to four consecutive western national titles, and her squads won four of the five western crowns awarded in the history of the Varsity Equestrian National Championships. Under her watch, Aggie riders also took home four individual national titles in the three seasons they were contested (2008-10).
A&M captured the program's first conference title in April 2011 and took the Big 12's runner-up title as the conference began sponsoring equestrian for the first time in the fall of 2011. The team entered the Southeastern Conference in July of 2012.
2013 saw both the Aggies’ hunter seat (No. 10 seed) and western (No. 6 seed) squads end their seasons in the quarterfinal round of the NCEA Championships. The western team fell to eventual overall runner-up Georgia, and the hunt seat team lost to No. 2 seed South Carolina.
As the reining coach, her squad has racked up 73 wins in the seven seasons under the varsity equestrian umbrella. In addition, one of McKay's riders-Maggie Gratny-took home the school's first individual reining national championship in April of 2011. The western team secured its ninth national championship in 2012, alongside the Aggies' second overall national championship.
Her leadership is not limited to the western discipline, as the well-rounded and highly-successful Texas A&M program earned reserve overall national champion honors at four of the five VENC competitions and the team grabbed the overall title in its first year in the NCEA.
McKay arrived in College Station in the fall of 1998 to begin work on a master's degree in agriculture with an emphasis in equine behavior. She guided the Aggies as a graduate assistant during that season. A year later, the Texas A&M athletic department picked up the team as a fully-funded varsity athletic sport and McKay was named co-head coach.
Following a highly successful inaugural season which saw the western team place fifth nationally and take home three individual national titles, McKay was named the program's first full-time head coach on June 29, 2000.
A vocal advocate for the advancement of collegiate equestrian, McKay has been very active in its development as a varsity sport. She was the chair of the competition committee from 2005-2007 and has had an active role in organizing the rules and format for NCAA competition. In 2010, McKay served as the chairwoman of the Varsity Equestrian Executive Committee.
A native of Littleton, Colo., McKay is a member of both the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and still competes in NRHA shows. While attending Colorado State University, she rode both English and western and qualified for nationals in both disciplines. Upon earning her degree in equine science, she helped coach the Rams' club team and worked for AQHA horse trainers in California and Colorado.
As head of one of the nation's premier equestrian programs, McKay has seen quite a few of her athletes go on to collegiate coaching jobs in the sport. Among that group are Meghan Boenig (grad degree from Texas A&M in '01), now the head coach at Georgia who started the Aggie equestrian program with McKay; Casie Lisabeth (A&M Class of '05), the head coach at Kansas State; Haley (O'Neal) Schoolfield (A&M Class of '02), who heads the SMU equestrian program; and Lia Chafee (A&M Class of ’12) who is the assistant coach at Delaware State.
She married Grant McKay of Wolfe City on June 7, 2008. The two are proud parents of three-year-old twin boys, Tanner and Tayden.
THE McKAY FILE
- Hometown: Littleton, Colorado
- Husband: Grant
- Children: Tanner and Tayden (twins, born May 5, 2010)
- Education: Arapahoe High School (1991)
Colorado State University (B.S. in Equine Science, 1996)
Texas A&M University (M.Agr. in Animal Science, 2000)
- 2000-: Texas A&M (head coach)
- 1999-00: Texas A&M (co-head coach)
- 1998-99: Texas A&M club team (assistant head coach)
- 1996-98: Colorado State club team (assistant coach)
|Alma Mater:||Colorado State '96|