Oct 01, 2019 2:51 PM

A flight winners - OC Luna Polo (Jennifer Alexy, Shelley Geiler, Heather Perkins)
A flight winners - OC Luna Polo (L to R) Jennifer Alexy, Shelley Geiler, Heather Perkins.

Club owner Nicole Bankhead invited lady polo players from southern California and Arizona to play in the Pacific Coast Circuit Arena Women’s Challenge at Lakeside Polo Club in Lakeside, California. Eight teams accepted the challenge and came to play in the two-day inaugural tournament honoring two lady polo players who were instrumental in bringing women into the sport. The colorful tournament program, authored by Sandy Webb, featured a tribute to these women who fostered the interest in polo for lady riders early in the history of southern California.

The first was Irene Watson Hering who began playing at the Coronado Polo Club in the 1920s. She organized a women’s polo team at San Diego State College in 1930 and played military teams located in and around San Diego during the prewar years. She was also instrumental in bringing a young Navy doctor, Lt. Eugene R. Hering, into the game. They were married in 1935 and twenty years later retired to Lakeside to start his medical practice and build their “field of dreams”. The local polo community thanks the Bankhead family for continuing and expanding on the tradition of fun and friendly polo.

The second was Sue Sally Hale, who was long an important figure in southern California polo for both men and women. Hale played in invitational tournaments at the Hering’s Lakeside ranch in the late 50s and early 60s and then came back to run clinics and encourage good horsemanship. She even taught the Marines how to play polo. Lakeside Polo Club now has 30 female and 20 male USPA playing members.

The eight teams were divided into A and B flights based on handicaps and experience.

A Flight Teams

Lakeside Ladies
Molly Agee
Nicole Bankhead
Kim Foy

OC Luna Polo
Heather Perkins
Jennifer Alexy
Shelley Geiler

MVP Heather Perkins
A Flight Most Valuable Player, Heather Perkins.

The quality of horsemanship and polo skills these two teams demonstrated was amazing. They came to play hard and fast polo. The home team featuring Molly Agee’s spectacular riding and mallet work was no match for the balanced teamwork and constant defensive pressure of the Orange County visitors.

BPP - Golden Girl
A Flight Best Playing Pony, Golden Girl, pictured with Shelley Geiler.

Heather Perkins was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony was awarded to Shelley Geiler’s Golden Girl (Gee Gee). Nicole Bankhead received the Horsemanship Award and Kim Foy was named the Best Sportsman for her quiet yet always present defensive presence.

B Flight winners - CPC/OC
B Flight winners - California Polo/OC Polo (L to R) Bekah Segien, Sarah Bellack, Kailey Eldredge.

The B Flight matches with six teams were played in a double round robin format over the two days.

B Flight Teams

50 Shades of Bay (Poway)
Gillian Young
Allison Freeman
Monica Soucy

Mane Attraction (Lakeside)
Paige Kufahl
Kylie Kufahl
Thalia Postins

Manolo Polo(San Diego Surf Polo)
Shannon Smull
Norah Harvey
Lisa Ware

LPC Polo Chicks (Lakeside)
Abby Purdy
Suzette Culp
Laura Lilly

Brick House (Lakeside)
Brenda Phillips
Laura Kingsley
Nicole DeBerg

California Polo / OC Polo
Bekah Segien
Kailey Eldredge
Sarah Bellack

BPP Blue
B Flight Best Playing Pony, Blue, pictured with Kailey Eldredge.

The final B Flight matches were played out with the skill and intensity equal to that of the A Flight, but the hosts yielded to the visitors. California Polo/OC Polo led by Kailey Eldredge, who scored the most goals of the tournament, were the victors in the thrilling final match. Nicole DeBerg was awarded Most Valuable Player for her determined and relentless play. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Jemma Contreras’ Blue, a gray gelding played by Kailey Eldredge.

Photos courtesy of Lakeside Polo Club