Dec 10, 2019 2:14 PM

SMU and Texas Tech women's teams web
Southern Methodist University and Texas Tech women's teams sporting their blue and white.

The Fall Fandango collegiate arena extravaganza put another year on the books. Established in 2007, it was first played at the Polo Training Foundation run Brushy Creek Polo Ranch outside Fort Worth, Texas. This year, Legend's Polo Club in Texas, hosted the event. Over the years, the arena event has provided an opportunity for Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) qualifying games, umpire training and fun and friendly competition for collegiate club members.

“It’s been a two birds—or maybe five birds—with one stone event for years,” said event organizer and Governor at Large Robin Sanchez. “We combine as many opportunities as we can into one weekend.”

2019 brought together Southern Methodist University (SMU), Texas Tech University, Oklahoma State University (OSU), Colorado State University, Blinn College, University of Texas (UT), St. Edward’s University (SEU), and University of Arkansas (UArk) players and teams. In addition to qualifying matches, a Club and JV tournament was played as well as an Arena Umpire Clinic led by Bradley Biddle of Umpires LLC.

Oklahoma State Womens team web
The Oklahoma State women's team sporting their U.S. Polo Assn. jerseys.

New this year, a Horsemanship Clinic was organized by the USPA’s Intercollegiate/Interscholastic division and taught by Robert Lyn Kee Chow. Lyn Kee Chow is currently an Umpires LLC professional umpire, Certified Polo Instructor, active committee member on various USPA committees, and still plays and trains horses for polo. After college, Robert played polo professionally, managed clubs, managed barns, gave lessons and trained horses that played in some of the best polo in the United States. During the Horsemanship Clinic, videos of the games were recorded, and Lyn Kee Chow would review footage with the players, providing instruction on how to improve with their equine teammates. Lyn Kee Chow also worked individually with students on their riding seat in the round pen with a bareback pad.

The Club and JV Tournament offered two flights with five total teams; the A flight round robin decided by a thrilling shootout. The teams were made up of members of SEU, OSU, Texas Tech, UArk, and SMU polo clubs and wore jerseys representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Lexie Harlan, a club member at Texas Tech, was able to participate in both the JV tournament and the Horsemanship Clinic. “Fall Fandango was an amazing experience for me! Being able to watch and play, as well as attend the horsemanship lessons, allowed me to learn so much while I was there," Harlan said. "I also enjoyed getting to meet all of the other teams, and I am grateful to all of the people who made this event possible and took the time to work with all of us.”

Robert LKC presents Horsemanship award to Lily Forreger web
Robert Lyn Kee Chow presents the Horsemanship award to Lily Forreger.

The Arena Umpire Clinic, sponsored in part by the Polo Training Foundation, trained existing certified umpires, new umpires from the region and college players who wanted to improve their skills when they umpire their own university or visiting teams.

Karl Hilberg, Chairman of the USPA Armed Forces Committee, has traveled to Fall Fandango multiple years for the arena umpire training, “as an alumnus of this event, I appreciate how Fall Fandango has grown over the years in its support of I/I polo, umpire development and training, women’s and military polo. To continue to develop like this has required dedication from Robin Sanchez as the coordinator of the event, but also support from the USPA (Umpires, LLC, I/I program, Armed Forces, Arena and Women’s Committees) and the Polo Training Foundation.”

JV winners Air Force w Karl web
The JV Tournament Champions: Air Force, pictured with USPA Armed Forces Committee Chairman Karl Hilberg.

Throughout the Fall Fandango several USPA Circuit Events were played including the Southwestern Circuit Arena Women’s Challenge, Southwestern Circuit Arena Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Southwestern Circuit Arena General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller military tournaments. Fall Fandango is part of the USPA Arena Development Series which also includes Mustang Madness (Central Coast Polo Club – Los Osos, California), Fields Tournament (Cornell University – Ithaca, New York) and Virginia Polo Fall Invitational (University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Virginia).