Polo Club at University of Arkansas Excelling and Expanding

The Polo Club at the U of A made its debut last fall. The club is part of Bumpers College's Department of Animal Science, but the men and women's teams are made up of students from across campus.
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The Polo Club at the U of A made its debut last fall. The club is part of Bumpers College's Department of Animal Science, but the men and women's teams are made up of students from across campus.

The Polo Club at the University of Arkansas participated in its first official competition with the United States Polo Association Intercollegiate Fall Fandango in November.

The club is housed in the U of A's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Science's Department of Animal Science, along with the equine science program.

Both the men and women's teams, made up of students across campus, were represented with the men defeating Oklahoma State. A typical polo team has three players, but the men's team was short a player for the tournament and instead of substituting, played two against three and recorded a 14-11 victory.

The men's team consists of John Hand (finance), Robson Macartney (agricultural business), Brandon Oates (animal science) and Lucas Johnson (economics and information systems) while the women's team consists of Lauren Crow (agricultural business), Hannah Banderob (philosophy), Reilly Donovan (kinesiology) and Anissa Edwards (animal science). The team is coached by Mike Hooper, Kathi Jogan and Robert Koehler. Jogan is an animal science faculty member and Hooper is with the Office of the Registrar. Koehler is a polo professional as well as manager of the Northwest Arkansas Polo Club.

Hooper serves as the primary advisor. Koehler offered to help coach because he enjoys seeing people discover polo and play.

"NWA Polo is very involved in United States Polo Association activities and collegiate teams must partner with a USPA recognized club, engage with a certified polo instructor and have access to qualified horses," Hooper said. "NWA Polo fills this need and in turn our members enjoy seeing young adults discover and excel in polo."

Hooper said Koehler and his wife were involved in the initial conversations of forming an intercollegiate team and have remained committed to the club's success. Hooper was unable to attend the Fall Fandango, but he was excited about the team's victory.

"I was out of town and couldn't be at the event, but I did bust out a yell while having dinner when I saw the score postings online," Hooper said.  "We knew the men's team would be competitive given their experience and talent of the players. Everyone was thrilled to see them perform so well, even playing a man short. They almost won their second match, too, but learned a lot about strategy for future tournaments."

Crow graduated in the fall with a degree in agricultural business, but was with the team last semester, including the Fall Fandango. She said her favorite part of the team was creating lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories. She hopes to better herself as an equestrian and an individual.

"Fall fandango was an experience I will never forget," Crow said. "I strengthened relationships with my teammates and formed new ones with schools in our region. Being a new team, most of us were unsure of how our experience would turn out, but after we played, we realized how fun and inclusive the polo world is."

The team plans on being more involved in social media, improving riding and playing skills, and building bonds between teammates this year.

The team practices at the NWA Polo Farm and at the Benton County Fairgrounds. A polo exhibition was held at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center last year and the team hopes to host another event in the future. There is potential that matches will be held in the arena as well.

A team consists of four mounted players in outdoor polo and three players for indoor polo. Players score by driving the ball between the opposing team's goal posts with a bamboo mallet while riding. The team with the highest number of points after four to six "chukkers," or periods, wins the match. For a full list of rules and regulations, visit www.uspolo.org/sport/rules.

The team is finalizing its schedule for the remainder of the season, including an open house for interested students. Both teams are looking for additional members and supporters, no experience necessary and horse ownership is not required. For more information visit www.uspolo.org/news-social/news/nic-final.

For club inquiries, contact Hooper at mkhooper@uark.edu.

Contacts

Kenley Bramall, communications intern
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
479-575-4625, robbye@uark.edu

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