There’s no horsing around for Polo!
Polo, or the “Sport of Kings” as it affectionately known, developed from ancient Middle Eastern culture and has been played by nobility from East Asia all the way to Western Europe and beyond. Let us fast forward then several thousand years to our very own University, where a group of enthusiastic women founded the Pacific Polo Club in October 2013.
Most students have no idea how to play polo, much less realize we even have a polo team at our school. In brief, polo is an equestrian sport played on horseback. It is quite dangerous and high contact.
On a field roughly the size of seven football fields, two teams with three to four players each compete with great effort to drive a small wooden ball down a field using long mallets, all while riding a 6-foot-tall four-legged animal. Games are divided into six 7-minute sections called “chukkers.” As in many sports, the object is to get the ball into a goal. Whichever team has possession of the ball becomes the offensive team, while the other plays defense.
Polo is also a very difficult sport to break into, catering almost exclusively to those who have had access to horses for the majority of their lives. Kelly Masterson ‘18, an active member of the club, has been around horses since she was just a girl in middle school.
Over the years, her connection to and love for horses grew, and she got a job working at a stable. Recalling all her hard work feeding and taking care of the animals, Masterson commented, “Horses are a lifestyle, and not always a glamorous one… This lifestyle is part of my identity.” Once she saw that Pacific had a polo team, Masterson contacted the club president in order to get involved. She soon found that polo unified her love of horses and field hockey, another activity in which she was involved during high school.
Senior Rebecca Lewit ‘15 began jumping horses at age eight. After leaving Clemson University and their polo team, Lewit wanted to continue with her passion for horses but finding a jumping stable proved to be to difficult.
She took matters into her own hands and founded Pacific’s Polo Club now almost three years ago. “Horse sports tend to be very individualistic; it is just you and the horse at practice and when you compete, so I loved the fact that polo gave me the chance to be a part of a team and do what I love: Work with horses.” Thanks to Lewit and the club’s other founders, Pacific now has a thriving team that other universities can compete against.
Our team competes with the likes of Stanford University, UC Davis and Oregon State University. An upcoming match has been scheduled with Cal Poly SLO on April 19 at Oakdale Polo Club, effectively Pacific’s home field. Team members drive 40 minutes four times a week to practice at the facility, which has 32 horses the club can rotate through during practices and games.
At the Oakdale Polo Club facility on April 12 at noon, Pacific Polo Club will be hosting the Polo Picnic, an event that will not only demonstrate the last year’s worth of these women’s hard work, but will also be a fundraiser for both the Pacific and Oakdale polo clubs, who will compete in a four-chukker match.
Pacific Polo Club member Aimee Mahoney ‘17 said that even though most of the club members have been playing polo for just over a year, “We have become pretty competitive and strive to become a cohesive and challenging team! I think we have just grown together in that way.”
Tickets will be available after the demonstration for a $10 barbecue lunch, and all the proceeds will go toward funding the Pacific Polo Club and the Oakdale Polo Club.
Shirts will also be for sale, and you should expect there to be music as well! Tickets for pre-order for groups of five are on sale for $40. To purchase tickets, contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pacificpolo and follow the club on Instagram @pacificpoloclub.
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