May 02, 2017 8:42 PM

USPA Governors after their game. ©Elizabeth Hedley
Participants in the USPA Board of Governors match, hosted by Grand Champions Polo Club. ©Elizabeth Hedley

The USPA Board of Governors gathered for the Annual Spring Meetings April 20–22, in West Palm Beach, Florida. USPA club delegates, board members and several new faces from around the country were in attendance for a variety of informational presentations and committee meetings. In addition to the committee and board of governors’ meetings, the team representing the United States in the FIP World Polo Championship Zone “A” Playoffs discussed their recent training in Australia. The week culminated in a Board of Governors polo game hosted by Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida.

Highlights from the week are listed below:

Arena Committee News
The Arena Committee made a proposal to investigate the history of arena polo and develop a structure to implement for the possible creation of a professional arena polo league. An intern has been hired by the committee to work on this project, tasked with gathering input from industry professionals who have had recent success, such as Mark Bellissimo, and will continue to develop the findings.

Club and Membership Administration Committee
The newly formed committee created an official mission statement and reviewed and approved the 2017 club list that was presented to the Board.

USPA Southeastern Circuit Governor Jake Flournoy on the ball. Photo credit: Elizabeth Hedley.
USPA Southeastern Circuit Governor Jake Flournoy. ©Elizabeth Hedley

Equine Welfare Committee News
The Equine Welfare Committee voted to reaffirm their support of the anabolic steroids ban. The committee also discussed possible opportunities to educate USPA members on equine welfare-related topics.

Nominating Committee
The USPA Chairman has approved 12 Governor-at-Large seats. The Governor-at-Large election will begin in June through mid-August. The USPA Nominating Committee will select a list for each Governor-at-Large position. Delegates of active Member Clubs will receive a Nominating Committee Slate, Nominating Forms and procedures on how to nominate independent candidates. Ballots with all eligible candidates will be sent to each registered player member in good standing. Members are encouraged to participate in the election process. Information on candidates, ballots and forms will be forthcoming in the mail.

USPA Governors shake hands on the field. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hedley.
© Elizabeth Hedley

Rules Committee
The Rules Committee revised the 2017 optional tournament conditions for Arena Rules 6, 9 and 10. Revisions will be published June 1 on

Safety Committee News
The Safety Committee put forward and approved a motion to change the current helmet grant to include any helmet that passes the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Standard. The original language of the helmet grant required a facemask in addition to passing the NOCSAE Standard in order for grant funds to be used. The committee also moved to create two additional grants for helmet manufacturers that successfully create a NOCSAE Certified helmet, which will be presented to the Executive Committee for approval.

Tournament Committee News
The Tournament Committee discussed matters related to awarding national tournaments. It was decided that the USPA Butler Handicap would remain at the International Polo Club Palm Beach for the 2018 winter season at the 26-goal level. The committee successfully awarded the majority of national tournaments for 2018.

USPA/Polo Training Foundation Polo Party and Awards Ceremony
The USPA and the Polo Training Foundation (PTF) teamed up for a captivating evening at the International Polo Club Palm Beach Pavilion in Wellington, Florida. Youth and adult polo players were recognized for their outstanding performance. Award recipients include:

Clint Nangle Equine Welfare Award - Sunset “Sunny” Hale
The Russ Sheldon Award - Rodney Fragodt
Hugo Dalmar Trophy - Peter Rizzo
Woman of the Year - Sunset “Sunny” Hale
General George S. Patton Jr. Award - Allen Hoe (2017) and Mark Gillespie (2016)

Junior Sportsmanship - Valentina Ezcurra Junior Sportsmanship - Clark Mayer
Youth Sportsmanship - Kelsey Burhans
Junior Most Improved Player - Giuliana Bautista
Junior Most Improved Player - Juanse Olivera
Youth Most Improved Player - Benjamin Eckbo Daniels

Woman of the Year Award
The 2017 USPA Woman of the Year Award was posthumously awarded to Sunny Hale at the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final on April 25. The award was presented by USPA Women’s Committee member Cecelia Cochran and was accepted on Sunny's behalf by longtime friend Joanne Smicklas.