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2021 USPA FALL COMMITTEE, BOARD OF GOVERNORS AND ANNUAL MEMBER MEETING RECAP

Nov 17, 2021 8:57 PM

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The 2021 USPA Fall Committee, Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting was held at the Boar's Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The 2021 USPA Fall Committee, Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting was held from October 27-30, at the Boar's Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia.

For the first time in over a year, the United States Polo Association (USPA) assembled in person for the USPA Fall Committee, Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting. The meetings took place at the Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia, on October 27-30.

USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong.
USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong welcomed attendees at the Chairman’s Cocktail Reception. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

Chairman Armstrong welcomed attendees at the Chairman’s Cocktail Reception on Wednesday, October 27, to kick off the meetings and events for the week. Thursday, October 28, and Friday, October 29, were packed with committee and LLC meetings. Approximately 100 volunteers, staff and guests attended the meetings in person and Zoom links were published to the membership for those unable to attend in person. The Annual Member Meeting took place on Friday, October 29 at 2:30pm ET where Club Delegates voted on the proposed changes to the Constitution. On Friday evening, guests were invited to the Virginia Polo Center for an awards ceremony co-hosted by the Polo Training Foundation and USPA. The Board met early on Saturday, October 30, for the Fall Board of Governors Meeting. Following the Board Meeting, guests returned to the Virginia Polo Center to watch the Governor’s Match and an intercollegiate game between the University of Virginia and University of Kentucky men. It was spectacular week filled with energy, passion, and support for the sport.

USPA President Tony Coppola and USPA Governor-at-Large Liz Brayboy.
USPA President Tony Coppola and USPA Governor-at-Large Liz Brayboy at the Chairman's Cocktail Reception. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

A brief breakdown of the committee meetings can be found below:

Arena Committee

The Arena Committee met on Thursday afternoon, October 28, and highlighted the growth and development of arena polo over the last few years. In 2021, 97 USPA Arena Tournaments were awarded. There has been a 42 percent increase in arena tournaments from 2020 to 2021 and all National arena tournaments have been awarded for 2021 and 2022. The Arena Committee presented on the new programs and series that had been developed. The Board approved the new mission statement for the Arena Committee below:

The United States Polo Association Arena Committee, as the successor of the Indoor Polo Association, is the primary advocate for arena polo in the United States. Through partners and programs, we develop and enhance national and circuit tournaments and arena leagues nationwide; expand the quantity and quality of national and international arena competition from the low goal to the high goal; and promote player and spectator awareness and engagement through promotion and special events to highlight arena polo as an exciting and competitive sport.

Fall BOG Awards.
The meetings would not have been possible with the organization and dedication of Lindsey Ebersbach, Director, USPA Governance and Operations. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

Armed Forces Committee

Mr. Gillespie (Army Major Ret.), Armed Forces Committee Chairman, reported the success of military events played in 2021 and highlighted the National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup played at Virginia Polo, Inc. (Charlottesville, Virginia) and the inaugural Allied Services Cup hosted by Texas Military Polo Club LLC (Poteet, Texas). In 2021, 31 USPA Armed Forces events were awarded, including all National Armed Forces events. A motion was passed to recognize members of the State Defense Forces in the USPA Armed Forces framework. These members will now be eligible to serve as a military qualified player in Circuit and National Armed Forces events.

Audit Committee

Mr. Kelly, Audit Committee Chairman, presented the Audit Committee report and the Board approved the report as presented.

Board and Staff Development Committee (BASDC)

USPA Governor's-at-Large Peter Rizzo and Liz Brayboy during the Fall Board of Governor's Meeting.
USPA Governor's-at-Large Peter Rizzo and Liz Brayboy during the Board and Staff Development Committee Meeting.

Mr. Rizzo, Board and Staff Development Committee Chairman, presented a summary of Committee accomplishments. The Board approved the new mission statement for the BASDC below:

The USPA Board and Staff Development Committee (BASDC) provides advice and support to the Association’s Board of Governors, Executive Committee and management, including the COO. The BASDC will offer recommendations or endorsements relating to the consistent use of generally accepted best corporate practices, policies and procedures. BASDC’s primary advisory purpose includes review Board approved HR policies and procedures; ongoing Staff professional development and succession; and Organizational Charts. When requested by Board or Staff leadership, the BASDC will provide feedback and recommendations regarding Board and Staff matters, questions, concerns and opportunities.

Club and Membership Administration Committee

Mr. Armour, Club and Membership Administration Committee Chairman, presented a report noting eight new approved clubs in 2021 and five terminated clubs due to inability to meet membership requirements. A brief discussion was held on the proposed change from “Social Non-Playing” Membership to “Non-Competing” Membership which will include insurance. The Board approved a pro-rated half-price membership starting in 2021 to any first-time members joining after September 1 each year. The Committee spent the remainder of the meeting discussing plans for proposed circuit realignment. It was discussed that a plan should be put in place to evaluate circuits more regularly including quantifiable reasons for realignment in the future.

Constitution Committee

The Constitution Committee met and discussed the proposed changes to the governing documents. The Delegates approved all proposed changes to the Constitution at the Annual Member Meeting on Friday, October 29. A Summary of the Constitution Changes may be found here. The Board approved the presented changes to the By Laws, a summary of the changes may be found here. The Board also approved the President of Services revised Job Description along with administrative updates to the Disciplinary Procedures Policy.

Northeastern Circuit Governor Leighton Jordan and fellow Circuit Governor's during the Fall Board of Govenor's meetings.
Northeastern Circuit Governor Leighton Jordan and fellow Board members during the Fall Board of Govenor's meetings.

Equine Welfare Committee

Dr. Manno, Equine Welfare Committee Chairman, provided a brief overview of the proposed Equine Drugs and Medications Rules. The Committee meeting included three presentations. Mary Muldoon presented a very informative power point on Equine Emergency Preparedness called “When the Stuff Hits the Fan, Have a Plan!” Lindsay Dolan made a Body Conditioning Score presentation including example horse photos for each level, including appearing and disappearing saddles and girths to demonstrate how horses often look different with tack on. Finally, Neil Agate provided a great overview of the Retired Racehorse Project.

Finance Committee

The Meketa Investment Group, discussed the portfolio and the overall performance to date. The Board approved the 2022 Budget as presented.

High-Goal Committee

The Board approved the recommended changes to the High-Goal Committee Policy, which will be available to view in the 2022 Rulebook.

USPA Chief Operating Officer & In-House Counsel Chris Green.
USPA Chief Operating Officer & In-House Counsel Chris Green addresses the USPA Board of Governors.

Rules Committee

The Board approved changes to the Outdoor Rules, Arena Rules and Tournament Conditions. The summary of the Outdoor Rule Changes can be found here.

Safety Committee

An update was made on the status of helmets that pass the NOCSAE Standard. To date there are three helmets that pass the standard, Casablanca, Charles Owen and Instinct. A report was made on the 2020 Injury Reporting survey which was answered by 49 members. The results provided a number of demographical and statistical information regarding injuries in the sport. It was suggested that the committee re-open discussion on an Inclement Weather Policy that would provide clubs with information regarding when to postpone games. A suggestion was brought up on looking into when a player should return to play after a head injury, it was suggested that the Committee investigate policies in other sports.

Tournament Committee

The Tournament Committee and Board approved three National Tournament applications: the 2022 National Arena Amateur Cup was awarded to Legends Polo Club (Kaufman, Texas). The 2022 National Arena Challenge Cup was awarded to Orange County Polo Club (Silverado, California). The 2022 Monty Waterbury® was awarded to Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee, Florida). The Tournament Committee approved an adjustment in the goal level for the America Cup® and the Silver Cup® to be played at 14- to 18-goal level for 2022. The Tournament Committee and the Board approved revisions to the Tournament Stimulus Program, the full new Policy may be viewed here. Adjustments to the Prize Money Matching Program were also approved and may be seen here.

Women’s Committee

Woman of the Year Award was presented to USPA Governor-at-Large Erica Gandomcar-Sachs, pictured with Cecilia Cochran and USPA President Tony Coppola.
The Louise Hitchcock Woman of the Year Award was given to Erica Gandomcar-Sachs and presented by USPA Governor-at-Large Cecilia Cochran and USPA President Tony Coppola. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

The USPA Women's Committee announced that nominations for the 2021 Louise Hitchcock Woman of the Year Award are open to the entire membership. Nominations close Monday, January 31, 2022. The Committee also discussed the possibility of adding a -1 handicap to the women’s handicap scale with limitations. The Committee will discuss this topic in more detail during the next meeting. It was also reported that 45 USPA Women’s Events were awarded in 2021.

USPA Marketing/Communications

Umpires, LLC

Tom Hughes Award Winner USPA Governor-at-Large Tom Gose, pictured with Fergus Gould and USPA President Tony Coppola.
Tom Hughes Umpire Award Winner Tom Gose, presented by Fergus Gould and USPA President Tony Coppola. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

The USPA Umpires, LLC presented on Thursday afternoon, October 28, and gave a report on the initiatives, use of technology, the areas of focus and the plans for the future. The Umpires LLC highlighted the success of the Tournament Stimulus Program and discussed the growth and development they have witnessed in arena polo.

Polo Development, LLC

I/I Service Award Winner Lou Lopez, pictured with Bill Matheson and USPA Governor-at-Large Liz Brayboy.
The inaugural Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Service Award was given to Lou Lopez and presented by Bill Matheson and USPA Governor-at-Large Liz Brayboy. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

On Thursday, October 28, the USPA Polo Development, LLC, met with members of the polo community for the USPA Annual Meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Polo Development LLC staff and committee chairs prepared a presentation deck highlighting their efforts in Intercollegiate/Interscholastic polo, Team USPA, Junior Polo, and the Polo Development Initiative (PDI). Over the past three to four years, the various programs that make up Polo Development have gone through strategic planning iterations. The Fall 2021 presentation looked at the impact of those changes on the polo community and discussed the "next steps" for Polo Development. Highlights included: the Launch of Division I and Division II tournament levels for intercollegiate polo, the addition of a full, four-team female division at the National Youth Tournament Series Championships, various Team USPA members and alumni participating in fall training in Argentina including four playing in the Camara de Diputados, and almost $4 million dollars worth of club infrastructure projects from 2019-2021 partially supported by the PDI program.

New Business

Chairman Armstrong recognized Erica Gandomcar-Sachs, Tony Yayhai, Bob McMurtry, Trey Schott and David Ragland for their valuable contribution as Circuit Governors and thanked them for their volunteer work.

USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong recognized Bob McMurtry for his valuable contributions as Circuit Governor.
USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong recognized Bob McMurtry for his valuable contributions as Circuit Governor.

Chairman Armstrong welcomed Jorge Vasquez, Midstates Circuit, and Mike Carney, Great Plains Circuit, as new Circuit Governors.

The Board approved the appointment of Erica Gandomcar-Sachs and Bob McMurtry to fill the two Governor-at-Large vacancies. The Board Approved Clifton Yandell to fill the vacancy for the Central Circuit Governor.

Tony Coppola was reappointed at the President of Services.

The Board approved a new Executive Committee to consist of: Chairman Stewart Armstrong, President Tony Coppola, Secretary Charles Smith, Treasurer Steve Ruldolph, Paul Jornayvaz, Steve Orthwein, Chrys Beal, Daniel Walker, Tom Gose, and Mike Carney as ex-officio.

The Board appointed a new Nominating Committee in accordance with the new Constitution.

All of the committee Chairs and LLC committee Chairs were reappointed.

PTF/ USPA Awards Ceremony

PTF Award. ©Rob Garland Photographers.
©Rob Garland Photographers.

On Friday Evening, October 29, the USPA and PTF jointly hosted their annual award ceremony. The event took place at the Virginia Polo Center - Beh House. Gordon Burrows former UVA President welcomed the group. Below please find a list of the awards and recipients:

Lynn Thompson Interscholastic PTF Award Winner Sophie Grant, pictured with USPA President Tony Coppola and Emily Dewey.
PTF Lynn Thompson Interscholastic Player of the Year Award Winner Sophie Grant, presented by I/I Tournament Manager Emily Dewey and pictured with USPA President Tony Coppola. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

PTF Lynn Thompson Interscholastic Player of the Year:
Emily Dewey presented the award to Sophie Grant

PTF Russell A. Sheldon Jr. Interscholatic Player of the Year:
Chris Green presented the award to Winston Painter

Russell A Sheldon Jr. Interscholatic PTF Award Winner Winston Painter, pictured with USPA President Tony Coppola and USPA Chief Operating Officer & In-House Counsel Chris Green.
PTF Russell A Sheldon Jr. Interscholatic Player of the Year Award Winner Winston Painter, presented by and USPA Chief Operating Officer & In-House Counsel Chris Green and pictured with USPA President Tony Coppola. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

PTF Daniel J. Wallace Jr., Intercollegiate Player of the Year:
Sherry Sheldon Gibson presented the award to Molly Agee

PTF Intercollegiate Player of the Year:
Daniel Walker presented the award to Charlie Walker (Charlie walker accepted the award virtually)

Daniel J. Wallace Jr. Intercollegiate PTF Award Winner Molly Agee, pictured with USPA President Tony Coppola and Sherry Sheldon Gibson.
PTF Daniel J. Wallace Jr. Intercollegiate Player of the Year Award Winner Molly Agee, presented by Sherry Sheldon Gibson and pictured with USPA President Tony Coppola. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Service Award:
Liz Brayboy and Billy Matheson presented the award to Lou Lopez

General George S. Patton Jr. Award:
Mark Gillespie presented the award to Dan Keating

Clint Nangle Equine Welfare Award:
Dr. Mike Manno presented the award to Peter Rizzo

Tom Hughes Umpire Award:
Fergus Gould presented the award to Tom Gose

University of Virginia (UVA) presented The Virginia Polo Cavalier Award to Richard Riemenschneider, pictured with *name* and USPA President Tony Coppola.
Virginia Polo presented a special award the Virginia Polo Cavalier Award to Richard Riemenschneider. The award was accepted by Rob Rinehart and Nancy Schlichting on his behalf, also pictured, USPA President Tony Coppola. ©Rob Garland Photographers.

Louse Hitchcock Woman of the Year:
Cecelia Cochran presented the award to Erica Gandomcar-Sachs

Virginia Polo presented a special award the Virginia Polo Cavalier Award to Richard Riemenschneider.

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