Apr 24, 2018 10:37 PM

Spring USPA Board of Governors Meeting
Spring USPA Board of Governors Meeting.

The USPA Board of Governors, Committees, LLCs and staff met in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 18-22, for the USPA Board of Governors Spring Meeting. The week began with the Chairman’s Cocktail Reception hosted at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in Lake Worth, Florida, after the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Semifinals on Wednesday, April 18. The reception was followed by two days of committee and LLC meetings and presentations at the Embassy Suites Hotel in West Palm Beach. On Friday night, the USPA and the Polo Training Foundation co-hosted a polo party and awards ceremony at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) Pavilion in Wellington, Florida. The USPA Board of Governors Meeting took place Saturday morning in West Palm Beach followed by a Board of Governors polo game at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. The week culminated in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final at IPC. Please see below for a brief recap of the week’s events:

Finance Committee
The Board unanimously voted to modify the budget resolution made in September 2017 (to reduce the 2018 budget by 5% and to reduce it again in 2019 by 10%) to a fixed budget subsidy cap of 11 million per year for the years 2019-2021.

Executive Committee
The Board approved the Executive Committee’s actions from the fall meetings to present and to enter into an agreement by and among the USPA, USPA Global Licensing and IPC known the “IPC Agreement,” subject to the specified term sheet and its authorization and direction to Robert Puetz and David Cummings to negotiate and execute the agreement on behalf of the USPA.

The Board approved the revised USPA organizational charts, as recommended by the Board and Staff Development Committee and the Executive Committee, which reflect a change in LLC staff reporting and the addition of an advisory position known as the “Services Chairman” to the services department, in line with the LLC volunteer advisory boards and adding the newly approved Strategic Planning Committee. The revised charts are available here: 2018 USPA Organizational Chart, 2018 USPA Committee and Staff Chart.

Armed Forces Committee Chairman Karl Hilberg.
Armed Forces Committee Co-Chairman Karl Hilberg.

Arena Committee
The Committee has been working to develop a budget to create a Fall Arena Umpire and Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) Clinic along with integrating more arena polo content into the USPA’s social media channels.

Armed Forces Committee
Following the approval of two national military tournaments last year, both have been awarded for 2018 and will be played at the 8-goal level. Midland Polo Club (Midland, Texas), will host the outdoor National Commander-in-Chief Cup and the Central Texas Polo Association will host the arena National Commander-in-Chief Cup. The Committee also reported on an international event played in Nigeria, where strong connections were made with military players from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Morocco. The Committee reported discussions with professional Nic Roldan to form part of a 12-goal American pro-am team to play in a single match against a British military team in the United Kingdom during the Westchester Cup this summer.

Board and Staff Development Committee
The Board approved a USPA Communications Policy to be effective immediately as well as USPA officer job designs which were presented by the Board and Staff Development Committee. The Committee also shared plans to create a successful workplace diversity program in the near future.

USPA Executive Committee.
USPA Executive Committee.

Club and Membership Admin. Committee
The committee voted to create a three-year limit for clubs to remain in inactive or provisional Status. The Board approved the Committee’s presented list of active, affiliate, associate, provisional, collegiate and inactive clubs. The full list can be found here.

Constitution Committee
Chairman Paul Jornayvaz announced the Committee is actively working on consolidation and refinement of the USPA Constitution, By-laws and Rules for approval at the Fall Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting. Updates will be provided periodically over the course of the next few months.

Equine Welfare Committee
The Board approved the policy, procedure and form for the Equine Disaster Relief Fund Policy. The Committee has restructured the Equine Disaster Relief Fund Policy into three categories:

1. Catastrophic scenario in which funds are needed immediately.
2. Neglect or abuse case brought to the Committee
3. Disaster relief fund which can be applied for and reviewed by the Committee.

The first two instances would go directly to vendors, the last may be distributed to a member upon review.

Committee chair Dr. Mike Manno D.V.M. announced that he is in the process of contracting a new lab to handle testing for the Equine Drugs and Medications Testing Program.

National Handicap Committee
The National Handicap Committee met on April 23, and are anticipated to release handicap changes late next week.

High-Goal Committee
The High-Goal Committee meets monthly and have developed a sub-committee to investigate tournament formats for various numbers of teams, and outline the pros and cons of each different format. The High-Goal Committee has worked closely with Umpires LLC to send out a survey after each high-goal tournament, and have created an online reporting form for teams to fill out. 2019 Triple Crown of Polo™ participation commitments are currently up to 11 teams. The Committee will continue to discuss rules and adjustments to improve the game for players and spectators. The expanded committee is working very well to incorporate more team voices.

Hugo Dalmar, Jr. Sportsmanship Trophy was presented posthumously to Stephen A. Orthwein. Steven Orthwein Jr. and Ginny Orthwein accepted the award. Pictured with USPA Chairman Chip Campbell and USPA CEO Robert Puetz. ©Alex Pacheco.
Hugo Dalmar, Jr. Sportsmanship Trophy was presented posthumously to Stephen A. Orthwein. (L to R) Steven Orthwein Jr., Ginny Orthwein, USPA Chairman Chip Campbell and USPA CEO Robert Puetz. ©Alex Pacheco.

International Committee
Chairman Joe Meyer announced that the Committee looks forward to participating in the Copa de las Naciones (Argentina) and the Westchester Cup (England) this year. The Copa de las Naciones will be played this week in Palermo and will feature a North American team consisting of Team USPA members Jesse Bray and Jared Zenni along with Canadian brothers Julian and Freddie Mannix. USA will also be represented in the Junior division by Landon Daniels, Bayne Bossom, Kristos Magrini and Lucas Escobar. He expressed his confidence in Nic Roldan, Julio Arellano, Costi Caset and Jeff Hall to return the Westchester Cup to American soil this summer and announced that an invitation has been made to host the 2019 Westchester Cup in the United States regardless of this year’s tournament outcome. The Committee also shared that it is working on securing a USPA club to host 2020 FIP World Polo Championship.

Nominating Committee
The Committee will be meeting in May to come up with a slate for USPA Officers: Chairman, President, Treasurer and Secretary to be presented to the Board eight weeks prior to the Fall Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting.

Charles Stanislawski was elected to serve another three-year term on the Audit Committee.

Rules Committee
The Rules Committee and members in attendance discussed issues relating to the following five rules: (i) Outdoor Rule 19.b (half-goal handicaps); (ii) Outdoor Rule 2.d(4) (the “three-quarter” rule); (iii) Outdoor Rule 14 / International Rule 2 (duration of the final period); (iv) International Rule 16.c (riding from behind into a player in control of the ball); and (v) Outdoor Rule 4.a (the NOCSAE helmet requirement effective on June 1, 2020).

USPA professional umpire Fergus Gould reported on the outcome of 2018 variances granted allowing clubs to use the “improper blocking” component of Outdoor Rule 26 / International Rule 18 which is scheduled to become effective as a rule on January 1, 2019. Over the course of the summer, the Rules Committee will be considering these issues and others on its agenda that were not discussed at the meeting, to decide if it will propose rule modifications to the Board of Governors at the USPA fall meeting for implementation in 2019. The Rules Committee welcomes feedback from members on these and any other rules-related issues.

Safety Committee
Chairman Thor Norregaard shared that he has reached out to nine manufacturers to make them aware of the incentives to create a NOCSAE helmet in order to meet the requirement that all players must wear a helmet that passes NOCSAE standards by June 1, 2020. Casablanca and Charles Owen have been in contact, but so far, no helmets pass the NOCSAE standard. NOCSAE employed a third party approval Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) that collect helmets and send them to the testing location. The Safety Committee agreed to cover the cost of creating and maintaining a helmet that passes the NOCSAE polo standard. Casablanca has designed a new helmet that is not yet for sale in the U.S., but the Committee feels it will pass the NOCSAE standard and will be working on it in the near future.

Cindy Halle was presented with the USPA Woman of the Year Award. Pictured with Lindsay Dolan and Erica Gandomcar-Sachs. ©Alex Pacheco.
Cindy Halle was presented with the USPA Woman of the Year Award. Pictured with Lindsay Dolan and Erica Gandomcar-Sachs. ©Alex Pacheco.

Tournament Committee
The Board approved the Tournament Committee’s awarding of 2019 Sanctioned and National tournaments for 2019. A full list can be found here.

Women’s Polo Committee
The Committee shared that they are supporting the creation of a women’s player database and global calendar. The Committee also thanked Houston Polo Club for years of dedicated hosting of the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship™, but noted that it is healthy to move tournaments around the country. For 2019, the tournament will be played in South Florida with semifinals at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida, and the final at IPC. The Committee also shared an update on the 18-goal Women’s World Cup set to take pace this fall at the Denver Polo Club in Sedalia, Colorado.

Marketing LLC
The Communications Department presented at the April Meetings their progress from January through April of 2018. The USPA Polo Network saw tremendous growth in viewership through 98 games of the winter season. There were 649,290 more unique viewers than 2017 and the average viewership per game increased by 1084% at 7,237 per game. The highest viewed game was the semifinals of the USPA Gold Cup® between Tonkawa and Valiente with 17,284 unique viewers.

In an effort to bring awareness to topics surrounding USPA tournaments and in an effort to support the polo industry, the department wrote special interest stories during the Florida high-goal season. The articles highlighted top horses, players, grooms, veterinarians and player training regimens. The positive feedback from players, members and fans was astounding and the department will continue to highlight similar stories in other top tournaments around the country.

Additionally, the department teamed up with USPA Global Licensing Inc. in April of 2017 to increase traffic to with an aggressive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. The on-going campaign optimizes the site’s on-page and off-page presence to allow to rank higher for top keywords used in search engines. January through April of this year saw an increase of 320,000 unique visitors to the site, over 40,000 more unique visits to the video page and an increase of 130,000 new visitors.

USPA Polo Development, LLC
The USPA Polo Development, LLC comprises three departments and encompasses Club and Membership Development, I/I Polo, Team USPA, and Junior Polo Committees of the USPA and their associated programs.

The Club Development Department reported it has been coordinating and promoting cooperative efforts amongst regional clubs to share resources and promote the sport of polo, such as the Chicago Polo Association. Additionally, after an in-depth review process, the Polo Development Initiative awarded $662,000 in grassroots support to over 90 clubs and schools. Finally, the Certified Polo Instructor Program broke into triple digits with 102 total Certified Instructors.

In the I/I Department the season saw great success with a 107 teams participating over the course of the season, which was a 10% increase. Additionally, the I/I program sent a victorious team to England to participate in the International Intercollegiate Challenge Match, pitting collegiate players from the U.S. against their counter parts in the United Kingdom. Three of the four players who represented the USA were first generation players introduced to the sport through an I/I program.

In the Player Development Department, it was announced that the 2018 National Youth Tournament Series season will entail 30+ qualifiers. The Championships are returning to Columbine Polo Club (Littleton, Colorado) over Labor Day Weekend and will feature an all-female East vs. West Invitational this year (a result of 43% of NYTS participants being female). Finally, the Player Development group collaborated with the International Committee to form the Copa de las Naciones teams.

Britt Baker was presented with the Tom Hughes Umpire Award. (L to R) Donna Lane, Maggie Mitchell, Molly and Britt Baker, Robert Puetz, Charlie Muldoon, Peter Rizzo, Katy and Bradley Biddle. ©Alex Pacheco.
Britt Baker was presented with the Tom Hughes Umpire Award. (L to R) Donna Lane, Umpire Manager Maggie Mitchell, Molly and Britt Baker, USPA CEO Robert Puetz, Umpires LLC Executive Director Charlie Muldoon, USPA Governor at Large Peter Rizzo, Katy and Head I/I Umpire Instructor Bradley Biddle. ©Alex Pacheco.

USPA Umpires, LLC
Umpires LLC reported that with 23 professional umpires they serviced 10 winter clubs in California and Florida and one foreign club in the Philippines. To date the yearly total game count of professionally umpired games is 860. During this winter season, umpire meetings were held weekly. Non-Florida umpires watched via Go-To-Meeting, call and non-call footage were reviewed and rule procedures were the main topics of discussion. Umpires reviewed plays using the Dartfish app at home. Additionally, all umpires wore a GO Pro camera while officiating. During the high-goal games, an Instant Replay Official was added to the officiating crew in the livestream studio for team challenges.

The first 2018 Boot Camp was held at the Empire Polo Club and Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California. Six certified umpires participated in a four-day intensive umpiring clinic with the Head Umpire Instructor. Umpires LLC, provided accommodations, meals and ground transportation.

With a budget of $250,000 Head I/I Umpire instructor Bradley Biddle organized all the umpiring for a combined total of 111 preliminary, regional and national games for the I/I Program.

Umpire Reimbursement for clubs is available under the UMP Program. Clubs can apply for partial reimbursement when using certified umpires for their club events. Forms are available online

USPA Clubs hosting national or circuit events, 8-goals or under are eligible to receive one free umpire (travel, accommodations and salary), based on availability as part of the PUMP/8 program. Clubs must request an umpire within two weeks of the event and pay a $500 fee. To date, 13 PUMP/8 tournaments have been played.

Umpires LLC contracted with former NBA Vice President of Referee Development Bob Delaney. He will provide a Performance Enhancement Program training for umpires. This will provide development in areas of leadership, teamwork, communication, professionalism, resiliency and mental conditioning.

USPA Global Licensing, LLC
USPA Global Licensing LLC CEO Michael Prince reported that the authentic connection to the sport of polo is proving successful in selling the U.S. Polo Assn. brand. A hard shift to digital media is planned for the company that will emphasize U.S. Polo Assn. as a global lifestyle brand. The apparel is sold in 150 countries and growing. There are currently 995 monogram stores, and projected growth is about 1300 stores.

The Board approved George Dill to serve another three-year term (2019-2021) on the USPA Global Licensing Board.

American International Polo Foundation
The American International Polo Foundation is working with Polo Development LLC and Joel Baker to develop a national team concept, and has agreed to undertake the process of beginning to fund specific tournaments. The Foundation has hit the ground running with the Westchester Cup and is raising funds to provide players with horses for the tournament.

Deferred Business
Jim Burton was awarded a bronze for his tenure as Eastern Circuit Governor for the years 2008-2016.

New Business
The Board of Governors and Annual Member Meetings will be held from Wednesday, September 19 to Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Hyatt Lodge on McDonald’s Corporate Campus in Oak Brook, Illinois. Please view more here.

Tom Goodspeed was presented with the Russ Sheldon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arena Polo. Pictured with USPA CEO Robert Puetz. ©Alex Pacheco.
Tom Goodspeed was presented with the Russ Sheldon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arena Polo. Pictured with USPA CEO Robert Puetz. ©Alex Pacheco.

USPA Awards Presented at the Polo Party Awards Ceremony

USPA Woman of the Year: Cindy Halle

Russ Sheldon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arena Polo: Tom Goodspeed

Tom Hughes Umpire Award: Britt Baker

Clint Nangle Equine Welfare Award: Robin Sanchez

Hugo Dalmar, Jr. Sportsmanship Trophy: Stephen A. Orthwein Presented in memory of Hugo Delmar, Jr., and his contributions to the United States Polo Association. The trophy is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the sportsmanship characteristics inherent to the sport of polo.

General George S. Patton Jr. Award: Steve Walsh (2018) and Allen Hoe (2017) This award is presented to the member who has gone above the call of duty to create opportunities for the military members and their families to become involved in the sport of polo

PTF Chairman Dick Reimenschneider, USPA President Tony Coppola, USPA Florida Circuit Governor Melissa Ganzi, Ava Rose Hinkson, Jack Whitman, Finn Secunda, Giuliana Battista, Justin Eckbo Daniels, Cipriano Echezarreta. ©Alex Pacheco
PTF Chairman Dick Reimenschneider, USPA President Tony Coppola, USPA Florida Circuit Governor Melissa Ganzi, Ava Rose Hinkson, Jack Whitman, Finn Secunda, Giuliana Battista, Justin Eckbo Daniels, Cipriano Echezarreta. ©Alex Pacheco

2018 Polo Training Foundation Florida Season Awardees

Most Improved Young Player: Cipriano Echezarreta

Young Player Sportsmanship Award: Justin Eckbo Daniels

Most Improved Junior Player: Ava Rose Hinkson

Most Improved Junior Player: Finn Secunda

Junior Sportsmanship Award: Giuliana Battista

Junior Sportsmanship Award: Jack Whitman