HUSKIES ON HORSES
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
This Sunday, the nationally recognized UC Club Polo Team hosted an inter-squad scrimmage at Horsebarn Hill Arena during the 18th annual Cornucopia Fest.
The match consisted of two seven-and-a-half minute chukkas as way to give a demonstration of the sport as well as gain support for their upcoming season.
What the match lacked in length – a standard arena polo match has four chukkas – it made up for in excitement. The white team secured a 7-5 victory over the blue team in the final minutes of the match after overcoming an early 2-0 deficit. The teams, made up of a combination of members from both the men and women’s teams, gave the fans a preview of what is sure to be an exciting season.
Heading into the start of the regular season, the polo team, led by senior Cameron Smart, is looking to build off its recent success in the past two seasons. The team managed to qualify for nationals in each of the last two years in addition to capturing their regional tournament last season with a win over Cornell.
Although the team has momentum heading into this season, Smart is taking nothing for granted. Returning for his third season, Smart is looking for the team to take things one step at a time.
“The main focus of the team this year is to win our regional tournament,” Smart said. “To qualify for nationals again would be a huge accomplishment, but right now our main focus is to strengthen our teamwork in the arena, which will come with more practice.”
Despite being considered a club sport, being a member of the polo team is still a major time commitment. The team holds practice sessions twice a week in addition to having matches on the weekends. Members of the team are also responsible for helping to maintain over 20 horses, which the team uses for competitions. The players arrive two hours before a match in order to prepare the 14 horses that are required for use during a match.
If interested in taking up the sport of polo, Smart offers the following advice to newcomers.
“Before you start playing be sure your riding skills are adequate enough to feel comfortable swinging a mallet and bumping opponents at a canter,” Smart said. “With more time in the saddle, good mallet skills will come and you will begin to hit the ball with more accuracy. Beginner polo lessons are available to all UConn students on Monday nights at six p.m. at Horsebarn Hill Arena. Give it a try; it’s how I learned how to play.”
The women’s team opens up its season on Friday September 28 at Harvard. The men’s team will be hosting Skidmore on Sunday October 7 at 2 p.m. at Horsebarn Hill Arena to open its season.