Club Profile: Polo Team

MSU’s Polo Club, a co-ed club with a men’s and a women’s team, is gaining recognition after a successful season for the men’s team. Founded in 2004 as a club sport for MSU, the team competes in the United States Polo Association Intercollegiate Polo for the Northwest Region. Competitors usually consist of regulars like the University of Idaho and Washington State University, as well as the University of Oregon.

The team competes in arena style polo, meaning competitions are indoors with English style tack. There are two types of tack, English and Western. English style tack refers to smaller saddles with no saddle horn; similar to horse racing. A game is split into four “chukkers” similar to quarters, with two chukkers in each half of play.

The team practices throughout the school year, beginning in early October and ending in May. The preliminary competition is usually between late February or early March, with the post-season following prelims. This past season, the men’s team competed against Stanford University in mid-March at the regional competition in California. The men’s team won the USPA northwest preliminary tournament to make it to the regional tournament. They lost 16-8 against the Stanford men’s team.

“It’s just fun. I can’t say that it’s easy to pick up, though. I’ve been playing for four years and I still am not the best,” said Polo Club President Shannyn Wilson, “but even when I don’t have my best game it’s still really fun, especially competing against the other schools.”

Any student is welcome to join, whether undergraduate or graduate. Experience in polo, or even riding a horse, is not necessary, as the team is more than willing to teach anyone who is interested. “Our practices are always open for people to come check out the team. Seeing the practices are what usually get people hooked,” Wilson said. Practices are held twice a week at the Bob Miller Livestock Pavilion, on Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m., with the second day of practice decided at the beginning of the year.

“It’s definitely not one of the well known club sports at the school so when you see someone wearing a team jacket, ask them what it’s all about! We always try to have one or two home competitions during the year to advertise. Our biggest thing is just getting the word out and letting people know that it’s really fun,” Wilson said.

The Polo Club co-presidents Emily Martin and Shannyn Wilson pose with their horses DeeDee and Brew, respectively.
The Polo Club co-presidents Emily Martin and Shannyn Wilson pose with their horses DeeDee and Brew, respectively.
Shannyn Wilson and Rob Elmendorf play a chukker on their horses, Comet and 300. Photos by Kira Nuebel
Shannyn Wilson and Rob Elmendorf play a chukker on their horses, Comet and 300. Photos by Kira Nuebel
The polo team warms up for their practice on Thursday night.
The polo team warms up for their practice on Thursday night.
Coach Mike Ward throws a bowl in to start a practice chukker.
Coach Mike Ward throws a bowl in to start a practice chukker.

The team is always accepting new-comers to join and see what the sport is about. If interested in joining, please contact poloclubofmsu@gmail.com.