Julie Caruccio saddling in as UVA’s new Cavalier on Horseback

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 4:28 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Julie Caruccio was a perfect fit to be Virginia’s new Cavalier on Horseback. She grew up a big UVA sports fan, she’s a Virginia alum, and most importantly, she’s ridden horses for years.

“It’s the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever experienced,” Caruccio said.

Caruccio and her horse, Sabre, lead the team on gameday out onto the field.

“I don’t think I can explain what having 60 hyped up football players behind you feels like, I am part of the team in this way galloping out,” Caruccio said.

Caruccio says she was a little nervous at first but now after three games, she’s got this.

“It’s been so exciting; it’s been more and more fun each and every time. I admit it was really good to get the first one under my belt,” Caruccio said.

Caruccio takes over the job after Kim Kirschnick’s retirement from the gig. After 21 years as the Cavalier, he’s played an integral part in the transition.

“[I’m here] to help prepare the horse, prepare her, and just let her know what’s going to happen. She’s going to have a different style than I had and a different way of riding. They’ll be a lot of little different things, but to try to make the overall game day experience and consistent for the fans,” Kirschnick said.

Caruccio is also making history as the first full-time female Cavalier on Horseback.

“I think it’s just an added benefit that I’m a woman doing it. Tradition is something I really respect, but also as an institution we have to update those things and how can we do things that are inclusive, that make everyone feel a part of it and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, so I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Caruccio said.

It takes a whole team to make it all work on gameday.

“My son and husband, they carry the shovels, they are part of the whole gameday experience, so we get to do it as a family which is a really special and important thing,” Caruccio said.

Caruccio says the job is fun, but a lot of responsibility with practices on Thursday and rehearsal on Fridays before game day.

She says there’s a lot of little details that go into making it all work.

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