Nov 29, 2022 5:06 PM
The USPA-Sanctioned Teddy Roosevelt tournament returned to the “The Best Little Grass Arena in Texas” on Sunday, November 20 at Texas Military Polo Club (Poteet, Texas), where the tournament was first played a decade ago. The Teddy Roosevelt is a military tournament inspired by the Interservice Military Polo Match. The idea for the military competition was conceived by Karl Hilberg, Peter Rizzo, Rob Phipps, and Russ Sheldon in hopes of continuing to involve and immerse those in the military or with ties to the military in the world of polo.
Four teams participated this year, with each team having at least one player with a military tie: Bar Spur/Patton Legacy Sports (Karl Hilberg, Mark Osburn, Brady Williams), Shweiki Media (Dani Gibson, Gal Shweiki, Ariel Mancebo), Polo InterActive (Jose Velez, Joss Leufrancois, James Glew) and Scuderia SA (Lauren Sterr, Wes Alston, Trey Crea). Notably, this was Gal Shweiki’s tenth time playing in this tournament and Karl Hilberg’s tenth time participating as a player or umpire.
Traditionally played the weekend before Thanksgiving, this was the first time in years there were weather implications. With light rain in the days leading up to the event, a decision was made to cancel the first day’s matches. This resulted in Sunday’s matches being only two chukkers each in the two single elimination rounds to determine who would play in the championship match.
Playing in the first game, it was Bar Spur/Patton Legacy Sports taking on Shweiki Media. Starting with a one goal handicap advantage, Shweiki Media’s Mancebo scored the first goal of the game. Osburn and Hilberg each responded, but Shweiki ended the chukker with a goal to put his team back on top 3-2.
Early in the second chukker, Hilberg converted a Penalty 2 and Williams used the forward momentum to score a goal of his own for Bar Spur/Patton Legacy Sports. But from that point on, Shweiki Media dominated the game. Mancebo scored twice from the field and converted two penalties to give Shweiki Media an assertive 4-2 win and earn them a place in the championship match.
After a quick break, Polo InterActive met Scuderia SA. Polo InterActive’s Glew worked diligently to offset Scuderia SA’s one goal handicap advantage, scoring the first five goals of the game while his team held Scuderia SA to a single goal from Crea. Polo InterActive continued their dominance with a two-pointer from Leufrancois and then two additional goals from Leufrancois and Glew to capture the 9-2 victory.
The championship match featured Polo InterActive and Shweiki Media. Shweiki drew first blood, but was matched by Glew. Mancebo and Leufrancois both got on the board in the first chukker as well to keep the score at a 2-all deadlock at the break.
With the game on the line, Polo InterActive’s Velez opened the second chukker scoring, but Shweiki’s Mancebo was determined to keep fighting. He successfully converted a Penalty 2 followed by two more goals from the field to earn Shweiki Media the triumphant 5-3 win.
Gal Shweiki was recognized as the Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Hitchcock Jr. U.S. Army Air Corps Most Valuable Player. He was awarded a Tommy Hitchcock Jr. book and custom George Wood mallet. SGT Reckless, U.S. Marine Corps Best Playing Pony was awarded to Ponderosa, owned and played by Lauren Sterr.
Ecstatic with the recognition, Sterr shared, "Ponderosa has a big heart! She has been playing the game much longer than I have, therefore she knows the game better than I do. That is a huge help for someone like me with novice experience. I trust her, [and] that makes all the difference when I'm playing."
For his kind and positive attitude throughout the weekend, Mark Osburn was awarded the Colonel Gordon Johnston, U.S. Army Sportsmanship Award. The General Ulysses S. Grant Horsemanship Award went to Brady Williams.
The Texas Military Polo Club would like to thank those that made this tournament happen, especially their primary sponsors the USPA, the USPA Armed Forces Committee and Shawn Gibson, the title sponsor who donated custom belt buckles. Additionally, the club thanks hosts Karl and Julie Hilberg, USPA Professional Umpire Robin Sanchez, photographers David and Debbie Murrell and EMT Rusty Wood.
All photos courtesy of ©David Murrell.
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