McElveen Receives IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award

31 March 2017, 6:52 pm Written by 
Published in Latest News
Peggy receives IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award. Peggy receives IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award. Maj

As a teenager she learned how to ride from the greats such as Vladimir Littauer and Jane Marshall Dillon. But more than riding, Peggy McElveen learned about the relationship between the rider and her horse. Instead of just going through the motions, she preferred influence – a skill that has served her well throughout her life.


After a long career coaching teams at the University of South Carolina, North Carolina State University, and Peace College, McElveen was offered a position at St. Andrews University. Although the growing program piqued her interest, she declined the offer. Thankfully that is not the end of the story.

After persuasion from the then president, Warren Board, McElveen agreed to come for an interview and tour the campus. During her meeting it was announced that the equestrian program had received a $600,000 grant from the Singletary Foundation.

“I’m a visionary,” said McElveen. “The opportunity to expand the program onto new property and build something was very exciting.”

Thirteen acres of land had been purchased near Scotia Village to build a new barn for the Equestrian Program. McElveen knew this was not enough space, so through her influence, she went door to door – sometimes with cookies in hand – to find land. Finally, 100 acres was found on Hasty Road, not far from the campus.

Under McElveen’s leadership, an additional 200 acres was purchased and five barns with a total of 120 stalls were constructed, along with two covered arenas, five outdoor show and teaching arenas, two hunter trials courses, a Dressage Arena and an Indoor Arena. These state-of-the-art facilities have been host to not only St. Andrews students, but for riders across the country and Canada.

Ask anyone to describe McElveen in one word and you’ll likely hear “excellence.” Her colleagues know that “she holds herself, her staff, and her students to the highest levels of excellence.”

So it is no surprise, to those who know her, that the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association has named her the 24th recipient of the IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award. This award began in 1993 to recognize the longstanding commitment of its college and university coaches. They recognize McElveen as being “one of the most popular equestrian team coaches in IHSA history.”

The St. Andrews community sees her as a ground-breaker, influential, an educator, generous, and a role model for excellence. She has impacted the greater equestrian community and changed innumerable lives for the better.

McElveen will be the first to put the spotlight on the St. Andrews Equestrian Program, but turn it toward her and she might shy away. She finds receiving the IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award a “great honor and very humbling.”