It’s a cold Saturday Morning. The sky is gray, the air is cold. Drizzle falls from the sky creating a soup in the atmosphere. The smell of wet morning air fills the nostrils. Hot breath bleeds into the air, making a line of horses look like a cigar bar.
The scene is like an ancient battle. Each person readies their horse, contemplating the battle that lies ahead. Equipment ready, horses calmed and a look of fierceness on their faces, the women’s polo team is ready. Ready for a battle of their own.
While most still consider polo as the sport most associated with British royalty, outdoor lunches and pompous tea parties, CSU’s team is ready to prove the opposite and to prove how good they really are.
“Hopefully win nationals, I think we’ll win regional’s this year,” said coach and former player Olivia Stringer. “We’ll do well.”
After finishing third in regionals last year, the team feels that last season’s first-year players have some good experience on their belt. That, in combination with riding strength, creates a team that is ready for a successful season. However, their greatest weapons may not be the riders, but what they ride.
“We’ve got really, really incredible ponies, we’ve got 35 unbelievable horses,” Stringer said.
According to team members, the horses used by the women’s polo team are some of the best cared for in the business. In fact, one barrier to a successful season is the fact that the team will not be used to the quality of the horses they’ll get when they travel.
The biggest obstacle in the way of this year’s team may be the lack of playing experience the players have as a team.
“We’re just all new, we’ve never played together and we’re just trying to figure each other out,” said junior Karen Trott. “We just all need to be on our game, and learn to ride the ponies we’re given,” Trott said.
The women’s polo team is ready for a triumphant season, no matter what team they play or what horses they ride.
The scene is much of the same on weekend mornings for the men’s team, as they step into the large stadium just off Elizabeth Street ready to play CSU’s fastest sport.
The players are several feet above the ground riding on a horse at 30 to 40 miles per hour. If that is not hard enough the players must accurately and powerfully hit a ball that’s six inches wide, on a shortened indoor field.
Polo is known as a game of finesse, but this game is also physical.
“This is the only horse sport in the world where you are allowed and encouraged, in fact, to have contact — horse to horse contact,” said coach Clyde Waddell. “And so it gets really exciting out there.”
Being in the midst of such brutal competition as Texas A&M and Texas Tech, the team will have to rely on its strengths to finish strong this season. While new goals are set with each match the team will use their experience to propel them into a winning season.
“We have four guys who know how to play well, I think we’ll do pretty good,” Waddell said. “We have four experienced players, not three, not two. Four. And that really helps.”
That experience comes from players being involved in the high school and collegiate levels. But just having an understanding of the game won’t be enough. The team spends time everyday doing drills and preparing for the games ahead.
“We’re working out, being here everyday, knowing our horses, and knowing each other’s playing abilities and each other,” said player Chris Collins.
Although hard work, knowing their horses and experience are all essential to a winning season, the men’s polo team has a long road ahead; a road they’re ready ride to victory.
Club sports beat writer Keith Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.