Polo: The sport you never knew Westmont had

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Maggie Hine

Westmont’s Polo team

Kacie Kwan, Staff Writer

They won the Intercollegiate Western Regionals and went to the United States Polo Association (USPA) National Intercollegiate Championships seven times. In 2015, they won the national title, and again the year after. Everyone recognized Westmont as one of the best, but when the Uretz brothers left Westmont, the triumphant polo team slowly faded from student memory. 

Westmont’s once-famous-and-successful polo program was what senior and women’s polo club president Maggie Hine has striven to revive. With no polo experience outside of an admiration for horses, Hine came to Westmont determined to pursue her equestrian interests. She sought the help of now-coach Jeff Scheraga of Santa Barbara’s Polo and Racquet Club and quickly generated enough interest to recruit two other girls, just enough people to make a team. Thus, Westmont’s polo team was brought back to life. 

From the start, Hine’s commitment re-established Westmont’s polo club, hopefully to stay this time. Without knowing it, Hine embarked on a journey that would become “her proudest achievement.”

After getting the club up and running in her first year at Westmont, Hine and her team struggled to succeed. What kept them going was simply their love of the game. “Winning is great when it happens,” Hine said, “[but] polo is amazing. You just get addicted.”

Hine’s passionate drive to play grew her determination to fumble through the challenges of creating a successful polo program. “Being a good program precedes success,” stated Hine. “I just wanna share my love with as many people as possible … We have a good reputation within the polo community because we intentionally created a culture of support and encouragement – we all want each other to do well.” 

The polo team is looking for more members. Hine personally advertised, “If you’re reading this article and wanna try [polo], try it!” Hine’s main goal this year is to make the club sustainable so more people will have the opportunity to experience it after she graduates. 

Not to be confused with water polo, polo is a game played on horseback. Similar to water polo, though, players try to shoot the ball in the goal, but equestrian riders use a mallet.

Hine pointed out two types of polo: field polo and arena polo. While field polo is what most people think of – grassy fields, glamorous uniforms, two teams of four players – all colleges, including Westmont, play arena polo. This game is played on a smaller field of sand, instead of grass, and played with two teams of three, instead of two teams of four. “This is because East Coast schools … play inside during winter months, and [arena polo] is a more cost-efficient alternative to field polo.”

As with most of the six girls on this year’s club polo team, one does not need experience with polo itself or even horseback riding to join, like first-year Aria Rosenaur is. “If you have no riding experience but are interested, focus on riding and getting the basics down first,” encouraged Hine.

In case potential members already have riding experience but need help financially, Hine reassuringly recommended, “Come talk to me, and we will figure out how to get started.” As with all worthwhile pursuits, the only requirement is the willingness to put in the time and the effort. 

The Westmont women’s polo team scrimmaged throughout the year but has had two official games thus far. In both games, one against the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the other against Stanford University, the women Warriors triumphed and succeeded in restoring the Westmont polo team’s notability.

If you would like to support our women Warriors, their next tournament — called the Santa Barbara Showdown — will take place just 15 minutes south of Westmont at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club on Jan. 21, 2022. They will face off against schools like Texas Christian University, Stanford University and Colorado State University. 

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