Nov 29, 2022 5:38 PM
The Fall Fandango intercollegiate and interscholastic arena extravaganza took place the weekend of November 10-13 at Legends Polo Club (Kaufman, Texas), an expansive 34-acre polo facility founded in 2016 by Ignacio “Nacho” Estrada and co-owned by Kimberly Pearcy. Legends Polo Club has been the host for many successful events such as the Texas Arena League (TAL), the Feldman Cup and the National Arena Amateur Cup (NAAC). The Fall Fandango is another Legends Polo Club triumph for the books, as it featured several umpire clinics as well as three USPA circuit tournaments - the Southwestern Circuit Arena Women’s Challenge, the Southwestern Circuit Arena Sportsmanship Cup and the Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
The week began with competitors arriving from all over the country, including representation from Oklahoma State University (OSU) (Stillwater, Oklahoma), Texas Tech Polo Club (Lubbock, Texas), Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas), Rancho Naranjo Polo Club (Saint Teresa, New Mexico) and home turf players from Legends Polo Club. All participants were invited to attend an umpire clinic on Thursday, where players and umpires attended classroom training on the rules of the game.
Among those was Dawn Cornell, who expressed her appreciation for the the clinic. “I thoroughly enjoyed USPA's Umpire Clinic. It was educational, challenging and thought provoking. During the clinic, we learned to recognize the foul, assign the penalty, and carry-out the penalty procedure. This was a tremendous help to me.”
Friday began with an arena umpire clinic hosted by USPA Umpires LLC with professional umpires Robin Sanchez and Ryan Saul. In addition to 11 umpire trainees in attendance, players were also involved in the discussion to more deeply develop the understanding between those making calls on the play and those receiving them. Following the clinic, games for the day began with OSU battling Texas Tech in the Southwestern Circuit Arena Women’s Challenge. Gameplay followed throughout the frigid day, with the evening ending with a pizza party at the Legends Pavilion and an inspired karaoke competition.
Sami Leach, a member of the OSU women’s team, commented on the event. “The Fall Fandango intercollegiate tournament has always been a favorite for Oklahoma State University. The event presents many opportunities for both varsity and club members to play competitive, yet fun, polo. Professional coaching was available to all players from world-renowned polo instructor, Tom Goodspeed. Legends Polo Club is always gracious in hosting this event each year, and we are very happy to be a part of it!”
Saturday morning kickstarted the Southwestern Circuit Arena Sportsmanship Cup. In addition to being the first event of the day, it was the first time for many to not only enter the Legends arena, but also the polo world beyond a university campus. Jana Basson, a new player to the sport and Navy team member, expressed a consensus held by many. “As someone who is relatively new to polo, Fall Fandango was a great opportunity to learn through both playing chukkers and watching games. Everyone involved was very willing to help and share their knowledge.”
Participants were assigned to six teams donning jerseys of various military branches in honor of Veterans Day. Team breakdowns included representation for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard to serve as a reminder of the brave men and women working to preserve the country. The tournament resulted in several hard-fought games, but the competition was ultimately decided in a shootout in which Coast Guard was declared the victor.
Josh Hathaway, pleased with his team's victory and his overall experience participating in the event, noted, “Fall Fandango was a great opportunity to learn more about polo through playing and watching fun and competitive games.”
The remainder of the weekend saw several games played by some of the best and brightest interscholastic and intercollegiate players. For both players on and off the field, the weekend was full of opportunities to grow an understanding of polo in a way that would have been previously inaccessible. Even after the games, players were given daily access to video review and a Polo Training Foundation (PTF) sponsored arena coaching clinic with former arena 9-goaler Tom Goodspeed. Competitors were able to go over corrective and supportive advice from Goodspeed, who offered insight as both a coach and polo legend.
Goodspeed remarked, “Thanks to the Polo Training Foundation (PTF), I had the gift of being able to do what I love with this year’s Fall Fandango, which was helping talented young players take their game up a notch. We had five intercollegiate teams and two interscholastic teams. I helped with field side coaching, video review of the games with each team and the supporting training discussions. Robin Sanchez has been spearheading this event for decades, which serves the I/l polo community on multiple levels.”
At the end of the weekend, the OSU team took home the Southwestern Circuit Women's Arena Challenge. Sheridan Strong, a member of the team, shared, “Fall Fandango gave the OSU club members an amazing opportunity to learn more about polo. From them watching the other games to playing in the club member match, they all learned a lot. Even just helping out I learned a lot. I really enjoyed being able to help teach new club members the game.”
Additionally, Legends Interscholastic won the Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz tournament and represented their host site with passion. Even for competitors who did not make it into the top spot, no one left empty-handed. Participants by-and-large expressed an incredible gratitude for all they gained by attending the event. Texas Tech competitor Tatijana Mirsky commented, “Fall Fandango was a great opportunity to get to know our fellow intercollegiate teams. We are so grateful to our lovely host Nacho, for not only the use of his facility, but also the use of [his] horses. The umpire clinic was a great touch, as it allowed our fellow athletes to improve and apply the techniques we learned.”
Umpire John Hand also shed light on the event’s success. “This year's Fall Fandango was an absolute success. With turnout from both team members and club members, there was opportunity for development at all levels. Members new to polo got to experience a setting where the main goal was to learn and not to intimidate. The umpiring clinic allowed an open forum for questions and clarity on basic rules of the game as well as more advanced scenarios that experienced polo players might face. The development, however, does not stop at polo. Fall Fandango gives clubs across the region a chance to interact with each other and form relationships that span not only miles, but years. Young adults who manage clubs at their universities are able to compare management and operational skills with others that will help them grow professionally and personally.”
All photos courtesy of ©Hearts and Hooves Photography.
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