Mar 022010
 
Authors: Ryan Sheine

Editor’s note: A spelling error was corrected.

Dust from the hooves of the running horses of CSU’s polo team filled the Adams-Atkinson Arena at CSU’s Equine Center last Wednesday, gathering on the wrinkled jersey of Chris Collins, a senior agricultural business and viniculture major and the captain of CSU’s polo team.

Collins rode atop one of 35 thoroughbred horses used by the team as he directed his teammates in a scrimmage chukker, one of the periods in a polo game, against the University of Wyoming.

Collins and one of his teammates, freshman political science major Jacob Brown, were accepted onto the U.S. national polo team this fall.

The men were two of 73 applicants who applied for eight positions on the team.

“It’s a huge accomplishment, and it’s really cool one of my teammates is on the team too,” Brown said.

While most sports recruit using tryouts, Collins and Brown were asked to submit an application and a cover letter, three references and resumé of all professional polo experience.
When examining applicants, the team not only reviewed professional and athletic experience, but also the players’ personalities, Collins said.

“I’m a pretty happy guy,” he said.

Brown and Collins will play on the team for two years and are currently waiting to hear about their next practice for their first international tournament.

Collins –– whose father and great-grandfather have both played for the U.S. Polo team –– started playing polo at age 10. He has played polo professionally for eight years.
“It’s fun to see him improve on and off the field,” said Collins’ father, Chris Collins Sr., “And he has a great attitude, which is great to see as a parent.”

Collins grew up playing polo in his hometown of San Diego with his eight horses. He has played for the Junior U.S. Polo team and has twice won the Spreckles Cup, the oldest polo tournament in the country.

Brown has played polo since he was 12.

“It’s a lifestyle. I love it. I love the horses,” Brown said. “I’ve been riding since I can walk basically.”

Brown hails from Philadelphia and said he has “won a lot of tournaments and was MVP for a lot of them.”



Coming from opposite sides of the country, Brown and Collins both ended up at CSU because of the atmosphere and the polo program.

“I came out to CSU for the mountains, skiing and because the polo out here is pretty good,” Brown said.

Coming to CSU wasn’t a tough decision for Collins because he loves the school and the high-caliber polo program.

“CSU has a really good polo program,” Collins said.

Neither Brown nor Collins have their personal horses in Fort Collins. Instead they use the 35 school horses, which have been donated by local owners.

Both players testified to the quality of CSU’s polo horses and said they had great respect for the animals.

“There are two minds on the field, and you’re riding one of them,” Collins said.

“Your horse is 80 percent of the game. You have to be a real horseman,” Brown said.

Staff writer Ryan Sheine can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The Game
-Each polo match consists of 4 to 6 chukkers (periods) that last seven and a half minutes
-The game is played on a field with goal posts on each end.
-The players try to hit the ball between the posts (no matter how high), to score one point.
-After each goal, the teams change sides.
-At the end of the chukker, the players change horses.

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