NATIONAL ARENA COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF CUP
Polo has a rich history in the military. In 1896 the U.S. Army based at Fort Riley, Kansas, took up the game. In addition to improving the riding skills of cavalrymen, polo taught leadership, teamwork and strategy. West Point next introduced polo in 1901. By 1914 there were seventeen Army posts playing polo. In 1928, the U.S. Army team made it to the U.S. Open Polo Championship final, and there were Army polo teams across the U.S., as well as in the Philippines, Hawaii and Panama. The other military branches, Air Force, Marines and Navy soon followed suit, and today there are inter-service matches held all over the country and international military matches contested worldwide.
The National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup tournament was created in 2017 by the USPA Board of Governors and the USPA Armed Forces Committee to be awarded and played beginning in 2018. The Central Texas Polo Association hosted the first National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup at Two Wishes Polo Club in Lockhart, Texas, over Memorial Day weekend in 2018.
In 2021, the fourth edition of the National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup hosted by Virginia Polo, Inc. (Charlottesville, Virginia) featured four branches of the military competing for the title. Two dominant semifinal victories pitted Army against Navy in the final, with a commanding second half that propelled Army to a 14-9 triumph. Read article here.
Hosted by Army Polo Club in The Plains, Virginia with games to be played at Twilight Polo Club (Middleburg, Virginia), the 2022 National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup features three branches that will compete for the coveted bronze trophy including defending champions Army (Black and Army Gold), along with the Marine Corps (Marines) and Navy. Returning competitors include Major (Ret.) Mark Gillespie, Major Amos Peterson and Warrant Officer 2 Joe England reuniting to defend their title (Army Gold) as well as 2021 finalist Petty Officer Alex Jenkins (Navy).
Additionally, on Saturday, October 8, from 9:00am-12:00pm there will be a free polo clinic for any military personnel (which includes military community - active duty, reserve, retired, former, family members). The clinic is being held in conjunction with the National Commander-in-Chief Cup and will take place at Army Polo Club at Chetwood Park in The Plains, Virginia. There are a maximum of 25 spots available, first come, first served. Those interested in participating should reach out to Mark Gillespie at email@example.com.
Army Polo Club will be taking advantage of the USPA's Tournament Support Program (TSP) for the Commander-in-Chief Cup, which provides eligible USPA Member Clubs with waived tournament fees, trophies or trophy reimbursements up to $1,200, one professional umpire and $2,500 in prize money at no extra cost.
The USPA originally created the Tournament Stimulus Package (TSP) to help member clubs host USPA events when the United States was emerging from the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis. The USPA wanted to continue to support member clubs with TSP benefits in 2022. Therefore, it extended and expanded TSP under a new name - the Tournament Support Program. Each USPA Member Club can obtain TSP benefits for two USPA events, with the option of a third under specific circumstances.
Photo: 2021 National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup Champions: Army - Major (Ret.) Mark Gillespie, Warrant Officer 2 Joe England, Major Amos Peterson and Private First Class Zak Coleman. Presented by Dan Colhoun, Former Pilot Sergeant, USMC. ©Oana Moore