Riding high

ACS girl's volleyball coach, Ashley McIntyre, was chosen as a Local Hero by Midpen Media Center. The 10th annual event was held in May and celebrated six local heroes.

Coach Mac, as she's known on campus, works with the other-abled community as an equestrian instructor through the adaptive riding program at B.O.K. Ranch in Woodside.

Therapeutic horseback riding allows students with physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or developmental disabilities to develop physical strength, balance, control, self-confidence, and self-esteem. At B.O.K. Ranch (as in "be OK"), students focus not on limitations, but on abilities.

"I am one of the many people who know about the magical powers of Ashley McIntyre. It takes a special person to work with kids with disabilities, but Ashley goes far above and beyond all expectations in her compassion, joy and deep belief in everyone's true potential," says Alyssa Byrkit, parent. "I never imagined I would see my daughter ride a horse, but Ashley assured me that it would happen ... and she was right."

Coach Mac grew up riding in Southern California and has owned and loved horses her whole life. She's an accomplished horseback rider, competitive athlete and passionate teacher and coach.

"I'll help you, I'll support you and I'll set you up for success, but my students have to do the work," says Coach Mac. "It's not about what you can't do, it's more about what you can do."

This perfectly sums up her anything-is-possible-with-hard-work philosophy. Her genuine spirit, caring attitude and belief in every person she meets are trademarks of Coach Mac.

"We're blessed to have Coach Mac touching the lives of children at Almaden Country School, both in her coaching roles and as a popular substitute teacher," says Dr. Ole Jorgenson, head of school. "Ashley's ability to connect with children, to inspire and motivate them, and her contagious joy are incredible gifts. She's not someone who enjoys the spotlight, but if you spend five minutes watching her interact with young people, you'll enthusiastically agree that she's a true Local Hero."