Texas Christian University Women’s Rifle Team Excels Under Coach Monez

The list of TCU accomplishments since Karen Monez joined the rifle program as head coach in 2004 is impressive.

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posted on March 13, 2024
TCU Coachmonez 3
Texas Christian University Women’s Rifle Team Head Coach Karen Monez (right) and Assistant Coach Hannah Black. The latter is an alumnus of the TCU Rifle program.
Photo by Brandie Davidson, TCU Athletic Communications

There are 26 collegiate rifle teams competing for NCAA glory and only five of them have all-women rosters. One of those five, the Women’s Rifle team at Texas Christian University (TCU) located in Fort Worth, Texas, has been on top of the standings for the past 20 years.

Karen Monez
TCU Head Coach Karen Monez with her first NCAA National Championship trophy won in 2010.

 

The team, led by legendary Head Coach Karen Monez, has been ranked in the top three nationally in 14 of the past 17 seasons, competing against both all-women and co-ed teams from other universities. While only the top eight teams move on to the NCAA National Championships, the TCU Horned Frogs have made 17 straight appearances.

In 2010, TCU Rifle became the first all-woman team to win a NCAA National Championship. They then went on to repeat as national champions in 2012 and 2019. The Horned Frogs finished in second place in 2015, 2016, 2021, 2022 and 2023, and won the Air Rifle Team National Championship in 2010, 2012, 2021 and 2022. Additionally, in 2013 and 2019, TCU captured the Smallbore Team title. (Editor’s note: After this article was written, TCU won the 2024 NCAA Rifle Team Championship, giving the Horned Frogs rifle team its fourth NCAA title.)

TCU wins 2010 NCAA rifle title
When TCU won the 2010 NCAA Rifle Championship, it marked the school’s first NCAA national title since the Women’s Golf team in 1983.

 

Celebrating her 20th season as head coach at TCU, Monez has coached 27 athletes to a combined 132 All-America honors. She has had a stellar career in competitive shooting. She served in the military for 25 years, spending three years as a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit International Rifle Section. Additionally, she was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve Shooting Team for 22 seasons.

Monez captured individual medals at five World Cup competitions, winning gold four times. She secured eight titles at the U.S. International Shooting National Championships. Monez also garnered 15 individual titles at the NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships along with four team championships.

Karen Money & Hannah Black
Texas Christian University Women’s Rifle Team Head Coach Karen Monez and Assistant Coach Hannah Black.

 

Her accomplishments as a competitor and as a coach have been widely recognized. In 2000, Shooting Sports USA named Monez as one of the 50 greatest competitive shooters of the 20th century. In 2007, she received the NRA Distinguished College Coach of the Year award. Then, in 2011, she was recognized as Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association.

So, after 20 years as the head coach at a program that is consistently in the top three nationally, what does Monez believe is TCU’s most significant accomplishment? For her, it has been the dedication and hard work of the team members.

“I mean, that is hard to say. But I think our most significant accomplishment, during the past 20 years, is the fact that the team has been a national contender for multiple years. That team members have worked hard and they’ve had that dedication to reach their goals. They’ve been able to visualize greatness. And that’s what has resulted in the three national championships,” she explained.

Stephanie Grundsøe & Karen Monez
Head Coach Karen Monez discussing strategy with TCU student-athlete Stephanie Grundsøe during a match.

 

The TCU Women’s Rifle team currently has a roster of 10 athletes. The program normally has between 10 and 12 team members, who come from across the country and even from Europe. In addition to Head Coach Monez, the athletes are guided by Assistant Coach Hannah Black, who is an alumnus of the TCU Rifle program.

Monez recruits team members from a variety of rifle programs across the United States, following and attending competitions that are hosted by USA Shooting. They also recruit internationally and follow competitors in the World Cups.

TCU rifle team in 2013
At the 2013 NCAA Rifle Championships, TCU topped the Team Smallbore Rifle leaderboard.

 

What does she look for when recruiting? At the top of the list is passion.

“You know, I think it gets back to having a real passion for the sport. That’s what I’m really looking for when I’m recruiting. They’ve got to have that. That’s one of the most important characteristics, they must have that passion for what they’re doing. And, they have to be an athlete who has self-determination and discipline, and they’re striving for success. They’re aiming to achieve at that high performance level. They have a desire to learn and a desire to win,” she explained.

The majority of the team members are recruited for the program, although Monez said she will look at walk-ons with some shooting experience and the drive to perform at a high level.

TCU Rifle does award scholarships to student-athletes. Monez said the NCAA allows them to award 3.6 GPA scholarships which are divided among the scholarship athletes.

TCU rifle team at the White House
After winning the NCAA title in 2010, the TCU Women’s Rifle team visited the White House.

 

The NCAA allows teams to compete at a maximum of 13 regular season competitions, both at home and on the road, plus a conference championship. In addition, some of the team members compete internationally. Monez said they work to compete in the maximum number of matches each year.

“I believe that to perform at your best in a competition, you need to shoot in as many matches as possible. So, we’re looking for that competitive edge, where they’re more comfortable,” she said. “With competing, you can be the best team in the world as far as your skill set. But you have to know how to win. And to do that, you really must compete in as many competitions as possible.”

TCU Rifle Team in 2019
TCU won its third NCAA Rifle Championship in 2019, with shooters Kristen Hemphill taking Air Rifle and Elizabeth Marsh the Smallbore title that same year.

 

Of course, training is also an important factor in developing a winning team. TCU Women’s Rifle team members train about five days a week during the season. Monez said the main goal of training is to build muscle memory. Training is arranged so that team members can practice on a daily basis as best fits their schedule.

“Not everybody comes in here to train at the same time. Some people may be in here late morning, others can’t make it in until later in the afternoon, because they may have an internship or some type of clinical rotation. We just work with what best fits their schedule on an individual basis. That allows them to stay focused on their academics, and work to excel in the classroom and on the range,” she said.

TCU in 2019
“I’m so proud of this team and all they have accomplished. They put in the hard work and deserve this win,” Monez said after winning the 2019 NCAA title.

 

In addition to training on the range, team members work with a strength and conditioning coach as a team twice a week. The goal is to build core strength, which helps improve balance and coordination. Most team members also incorporate additional days of cardio or conditioning on their own.

Monez also recognizes the importance of the mental side of shooting competition. Several of the team members work with a mental coach on a one-on-one basis.

“[The mental coach] helps them work on their mental game, to help them stay focused and disciplined. She’s also somewhat of a life coach, you know, helping them navigate any challenges they may have. As student-athletes, they really have a full plate with their academic schedule, range time, competition travel and they need to be able to enjoy their four years here,” she said.

TCU at 2024 NCAA rifle championship
TCU captured its fourth overall rifle title at the 2024 NCAA Rifle Championship, held at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V., March 8-9. (Photo by John Parker)

 

After 20 years at the helm of a powerhouse collegiate rifle program, what does Monez see as the main goal for the team and its athletes? For Texas Christian University, it’s not just about winning championships.

“Well, you know, there’s one basic goal we have—to be the best version of ourselves,” she said. “Once you develop the skill set, to shoot at that level needed to win, you must have the confidence to take it from the practice line to the match line. And that’s the key to winning. Every time a team member walks off the line at the end of the match, I want them to be able to tell me that they did their best that day. Maybe the score was not the best, but the effort was. That said, we are always going to have championship expectations. That will always be the goal. The goal is to prepare ourselves to compete at that championship level.”

All photos by Brandie Davidson, TCU Athletic Communications unless otherwise noted.

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