Oct 18, 2022 4:57 PM
Born March 27, 1945 to Bertie Lou Parton and Harry E. Kent Jr., both enrolled members of the Yakima nation. Stovall’s father was a cattle and horse rancher in the Yakima Valley, located within the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington. He was said to have sorted his cattle with a polo mallet in his hand. Her dad saw polo while watching a movie and decided to give it a try. Before long, weekend polo became part of their lives.
He and the family traveled to polo all over the Northwest in the summer during the 1950s and ‘60s and played at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California) during the winters, when the club was still a winter club. Eventually, the entire family was playing the sport. Stovall’s dad continued to play until 1992 when he was 80 years old.
Stovall’s maternal grandmother was Ruth Parton, who has been called the Mother of Thoroughbred Racing. A rodeo and trick rider, Parton was a three-time World Champion Relay Racer (1914-1917), as well as a jockey trainer. She was the first woman in California to receive a Thoroughbred trainer’s license in 1932. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Washington Racing Hall of Fame at Emerald Downs in 2019.
One of six children, Stovall once said she could not remember not being around polo. “The [polo] bug had me and my whole family before I was born, I guess, and I grew up with it,” she once said.
She loved every part of the day-to-day life of a polo player and club manager, from early morning sets, to competing on the field, to meticulously organizing tournaments, to entertaining royalty at charity polo events. On several occasions, Stovall hosted Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson and countless other celebrities. She also had the opportunity to play alongside stars in charity polo matches, with celebrities like Stefanie Powers, Tommy Lee Jones and William Devane all sharing jersey colors with Stovall at one point or another.
Stovall was an excellent horsewoman and polo player, reaching a 2-goal handicap in mixed polo. A regular on the trophy platform, she won numerous events, but when she received the Polo America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, she said her Governor’s Cup victories were some of her favorites. Her team topped 18 teams one year and 26 teams the next time she won it. Another memorable event for Stovall was triumphing on the BTA team alongside Karlene Garber, Caroline Anier and Kristy Waters in the 4-goal January league. The all-women team went undefeated, and their win marked the first time that an all-women team beat the men. Their team went on to win the February league that year as well.
As a competitive player, Stovall competed outside of just Eldorado Polo Club, traveling to destinations all over the U.S., including Hawaii, as well as internationally, in places like Argentina, Australia, Canada, throughout Europe, Jamaica, Mexico and South Africa.
A polo manager for decades, she managed Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California, for over 20 years, while at the same time, helping to run her family’s White Swan Polo Club in Toppenish, Washington, during the summer. Stovall’s masterful ability to network and organize teams was often regarded as legendary. She would begin organizing tournaments such as the Eldorado Polo Club Governor’s Cup months in advance in order to ensure everything would go properly. No one before, or since, has ever put together 40 teams to play in the Governor’s Cup. On one Sunday, she even organized 23 games in a single day, all while competing in one of the games herself. During her time there, the club had its own fields and leased neighboring Empire Polo Club (Indio, California) fields to accommodate all the teams. Stovall managed everything with ease.
Despite the rural area, White Swan Polo Club also drew thousands of people to the games in the Yakima Valley. Thanks to Stovall’s efforts, celebrities and royalty, like Maj. Ronald Ferguson, would attend the games. Stovall once said, “It was what you did on a Sunday afternoon. Spectators and the sports reporters knew the horses by name, and everything was written up in the local papers.”
During her time at Eldorado, the club grew to become the largest polo club on the West Coast, regularly seeing dozens of teams competing in its events. During the height of the season, she regularly scheduled as many as 45 teams in numerous leagues to play twice a weekend, all expertly organized by Stovall.
Stovall also made it her mission to help new and beginner players improve and grow. She spearheaded several diverse programs from coaching leagues to getting beginners on horses for the first time. She helped establish Eldorado Polo Club’s thriving junior program, which is still in existence today. Many of the program’s participants have experienced great success, winning interscholastic and intercollegiate championships. Accomplished professionals Frederick Mannix, Julian Mannix and Jason Crowder all emerged from the program and have since had opportunities to compete in some of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, such as the Argentine Open, the U.S. Open Polo Championship and the Pacific Coast Open.
In 2012, the club sponsored a women’s team to play in the first ever Ladies International Test Match between the U.S. and Argentina at Palermo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Stovall coached the U.S. team, which won 11-7.
For the past 12 years, she has managed the Costa Careyes Polo Club in Careyes, Mexico. She retired this past April. Aside from polo, Stovall also enjoyed playing tennis and golf.
She is predeceased by a sister Stephanie Lindahl. She is survived by sisters Jana Isaac (Steve); Gratia Brown; Mary Patrice Kent; brother Harry E. Kent III; and nephew Curtis Lindahl.
Stovall’s drive and dedication to bettering polo and creating polo opportunities for others will forever cement her legacy in the history books of the sport. Her spirit and enthusiasm will be dearly missed. Please join the USPA in remembering and celebrating the life and accomplishments of Susan Stovall.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More