Waco, TX- Karen Willis grew up in Dallas, TX and graduated from Baylor University with a BBA in 1985. It was there she met, Richard, her husband of 35 years. Richard’s job has taken them all over the US, having lived in 11 cities in 8 states. “I loved the adventure and the opportunity to have lived in so many places and to have experienced so many cultures within the US,” Karen shared. “But I am also glad to be back home in Texas where all of my family lives.”
Most equestrians start riding at a young age. But Karen didn’t get started until she was well into her 30’s and already had 2 children. It started with a 6-week continuing education class from a local community college. The classes were taught at a nearby riding school and, after the course was finished, she continued taking lessons from the instructor.
The Willis family has been a supporter of Baylor University for over 27 years through endowed scholarships and capital campaigns. So when equestrian was added as a women’s sport in 2005, it was an easy decision to become a sponsor and the team’s biggest cheerleader.
Karen and Richard have three children. Marc is a senior Computer Science major and Sarah is a freshman majoring in Fine Arts and Dance, both at Baylor. Katie will finish her Masters in History from NYU this month.
Question & Answer with Karen Willis
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOBBY?
Crafts - especially blinging my daughter's dance costumes.
- IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANYONE, PAST OR PRESENT, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Queen Liliuokalani, last sovereign of Hawaii. Love Hawaiian culture.
- IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ANOTHER CAREER, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO BE?
Teaching at the university level
- IF YOU COULD BE A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE IN ANY SPORT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Softball - started playing at age 9. Was thrilled when I turned 16 and was finally old enough to play on a team with my sisters.
- WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT ABOUT COLLEGIATE ATHLETICS?
Appreciating the opportunities that God-given talents provides and balancing that with learned skills from the classroom. Then to make a positive impact on their community and to be a good role model for kids.
- HOW DO YOU THINK THE SPORT OF EQUESTRIAN MOST BENEFITS YOUNG WOMEN?
Opportunities to get a good education and learning to work as a team.
- HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS?
Patient, busy, faithful
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TRAIT IN A PERSON?
Sense of humor
- WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
Hopefully spoiling grandkids.
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
- IF YOU COULD VISIT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHY?
Israel, to visit the places I've read about so many times in the Bible.
- BEST GIFT YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
My son - found out I was pregnant with him on Christmas Day, 1989
- WHAT ONE ITEM IN YOUR WARDROBE BEST PERSONIFIES YOU?
- WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Murder on the Orient Express
- WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
Close to Home by Robert Dugoni
- WHAT IS YOUR BEST WAY TO DECOMPRESS?
Sitting on a lanai in Lana'i.
- WHAT WOULD YOUR KID(S) SAY IS YOUR BEST DANCE MOVE?
- RED OR WHITE? YEAR?
White, any year
- WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT?
Was on a first date with a boy I'd been crushing on for ages. When the car hit a low hanging tree branch, I ducked... I was INSIDE the car.
- DO YOU LACE RIGHT OR LEFT FIRST?
- FAVORITE FAMILY ACTIVITY, OUTSIDE OF EQUESTRIAN?
Playing board games in Lana'i
- FAVORITE FOOD?
- WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR PET PEEVES?
People who spend an hour walking around the grocery store but are too lazy to push their cart another 25 feet to the cart stand when they are finished with it.