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NEWS

CHICAGO POLO ASSOCIATION CONTINUES TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT STRIDES IN ITS FOURTH SEASON

Oct 26, 2021 9:52 PM

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Oak Brook Polo Team's Mariano Gutierrez. ©Andrew Meier
Oak Brook Polo Team's Mariano Gutierrez. ©Andrew Meier

The Chicago Polo Association (“Chicago Polo”) entered its fourth season with high expectations, goals of further advancing its polo initiatives from 2020 and the creation of new ones for 2021. Chicago Polo is a collective, cooperative effort of eight USPA Member Clubs (Las Brisas Polo Club, Arranmore Farm and Polo club, Morgan Creek Polo Club, Chicago International Polo, Barrington Hills Polo Club, Blackberry Polo Club, Oak Brook Polo Club, Peoria/Bettendorf Polo Club), 15 polo fields, seven polo arenas, and three polo schools with a mission of growing and developing the sport of polo in the great Chicagoland area and establishing itself as a regional asset for the Central Circuit.

The Association was created to better optimize Chicagoland’s numerous polo activities, including practices, grass and arena tournaments, exhibition matches, and schools for the area’s more than 180 players. The three polo schools had a banner year starting 38 new players which resulted in several horse leases and horse sales. Since beginning in 2018, the Chicago Polo Association has grown from 104 players to 186 and counting in the last four years.

2021 Central Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Champions: Las Brisas- Matias Obregon, Max Nussbaumer, Caroline Stauffer.
2021 Central Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Champions: Las Brisas- Matias Obregon, Max Nussbaumer, Caroline Stauffer.

“The combined effort and generosity from the polo clubs and field owners allows Chicago Polo amazing growth each year,” said Pam Mudra, Chicago Polo Executive Director. “We are continuing to work together to gain momentum and increase participation at all levels of polo. We started the Chicago Polo Association in 2018 and barely had enough player support for three 4-goal teams. We have three polo schools, a practice league, newly formed Arena League, two women’s tournaments, NYTS, 0-goal, Margarita League, 6-goal and 12-goal. We had visiting teams and players come in from Texas, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Kentucky, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania who are making plans to come and play several tournaments with us next summer. We are the Midwest hub for polo and plan on making 2022 an even busier season.”

Butler International Cup Champions: G2 (USA)- Larry Aschebrook, Juan Martin Gutierrez, Juan Martin Obregon, Matias Obregon.
Butler International Cup Champions: G2 (USA)- Larry Aschebrook, Juan Martin Gutierrez, Juan Martin Obregon, Matias Obregon.

In addition to participation and chukker growth, Chicago Polo achieved and completed the following milestones:

  • Twenty USPA Circuit tournaments, including NYTS Qualifier, NYTS Championship®, women’s, arena, 6 and 12 goal level competitions, ending the season with the Butler International Cup hosted by the Oak Brook Polo Club, Las Brisas Farm and Polo Club, and Passion For Polo
  • Chicago Polo 12-Goal League Butler International Cup tournament featuring five teams including Jamaica, Germany, Lichtenstein, and USA (G2 and Oak Brook)
  • Newly formed 6-goal (four chukker) league with six to eight teams
  • 28 polo professionals called Chicago their home for the season
  • Inaugural launch of the Margarita League 0-4 goal (four chukkers) with four to six teams
  • Sunday four Chukker amateur O’ League
  • Arena League for the spring and fall shoulder seasons four to six teams
  • Five USPA Arena tournaments
  • Two Women’s tournaments
  • USPA Women’s Challenge 6 goal (six teams)
  • The USPA NYTS Regional Qualifier had players come in from seven different states
  • NYTS Championship®
  • Winter Arena Polo League
  • Chicago Polo Interscholastic Open team
  • Chicago Polo Middle school team
  • The Annual $50,000 Prize Money Team Up for Tony Benefit Polo Tournament which featured the 6-goal Sportsmanship Cup (and the 12-goal Sportsmanship Cup, 0-2 goal Amateur Cup tournament for a total of 47 players who raised over $50,000 with the USPA Tournament Prize Money Matching Program for Tony Sekera.
Central Circuit Arena Amateur Cup Champions: 5 J's Polo - Rachel Lewenauer, Joan Carlos Brugue, Paul Nourbash.
Central Circuit Arena Amateur Cup Champions: 5 J's Polo - Rachel Lewenauer, Joan Carlos Brugue, Paul Nourbash.

A veteran of polo management, Pam Mudra has been working diligently with participating clubs, facilities, team owners and players to organize and promote Chicago Polo events, tournaments and schools to grow the sport in Chicago and the effort has been paying off. “In four short years, the Chicagoland polo community is beginning to hit its stride again because there is a consensus to build a centralized organization and means of executing polo activities from the ground up and top down so that we promote growth and sustainability across Chicago polo’s ecosystem,” said Oak Brook Polo Club’s Managing Director, Danny O’Leary. “This is no easy task and Pam keeps everyone in line, accountable and well-informed about the various polo activities and opportunities throughout the season.”

Central Circuit General George S. Patton Jr. Champions: Brinkerhill Sanfilippo Polo - Lisa Sanfilippo, RJ Roberts, Pedro Manion, Lindor Novillo Corvalan, Kelcey Roberts.
Central Circuit General George S. Patton Jr. Champions: Brinkerhill Sanfilippo Polo - Lisa Sanfilippo, RJ Roberts, Pedro Manion, Lindor Novillo Corvalan, Kelcey Roberts.

Chicago’s polo history dates back to 1879, when the first recorded match was played in Lincoln Park in Downtown Chicago. Over the next 140 years, the sport of kings prospered in and around Chicagoland with as many as fifty polo clubs hosting competitive professional and amateur polo. Various well-known Chicago families were avid polo players and helped bring attention to the sport, including the Wrigley’s, McCormick’s, Armour’s and the Butlers.

Chicago was also home to a number of notable and historic polo events, including the East vs. West match that drew over 40,000 spectators to the Onwentsia Club in 1933, 24 U.S. Open Polo Championships® from 1954 to 1979 at the Oak Brook Polo Club and the first all-women’s polo club in the United States, the Naperville Women’s Polo Club in the 1980’s.

Lindor Novillo Corvalan takes a beautiful neckshot to goal. ©Andrew Meier
Lindor Novillo Corvalan takes a beautiful neckshot to goal. ©Andrew Meier

Moving into its fourth year, the Chicago Polo will focus on continuing to build on the momentum established from the launch of the Association and look to develop four key components of their program: (1) starting new players (2) grow beginner and four chukker polo (3) continue to build upon Chicago Polo’s 6 goal and 12 goal leagues with local and out-of-state teams (4) arena polo shoulder seasons with the goal of establishing a strong Interscholastic presence and winter arena league.

For more information about Chicago Polo please contact Pam Mudra at pam@chicago-polo.com.

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