Polo Players Edition

DEC 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1055534

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Page 15 of 67

14 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N V I E W P O I N T S BY DANA FORTUGNO COACHING SECRETS ou can do something for a long time in the wrong way and be very experienced at doing it wrong. I have had people tell me they have been playing polo for 40 years, and I think, and your still zero goals? But really, don't be that guy or gal that thinks you are correct simply because you have experience. The first thing I learned in my Master of Laws program was to remember you are not the best at everything, probably not at anything so learn, borrow and steal things from others who are better than you (as long as it's not under a copyright or patent!). Really? Can you do that? Absolutely, and you're a fool if you don't. True Story: Custody modification case, late afternoon, downtown Nashville, Juvenile Court bench trial into the sixth and final hour, opposing counsel defending the modification says in her closing statements, "Your Honor, if this were a perfect world then yes, my client's recent behavior is unacceptable but we don't live in a perfect world, so although his actions are imperfect, they don't rise to the level of modifying the current orders." I watched the judge make note of that and sure enough 10 days later those words came back to me in the court order. Two weeks later, different judge, different county, different clients, different opposing counsel, same issue but I'm now defending the modification and in my closing statement I used the same perfect- world argument and it worked. I like it because the judge liked it and I know she liked it because she used it in the order. The new judge put it in his order as well. I stole it, plain and simple. Later the same month, I saw the first opposing counsel in a different court on motion day and I joked with her about stealing her closing statement. She laughed and told me she stole it a year ago from another lawyer she was up against. That theft made us both better lawyers. So, if it's not something legally protected and you like it—take it—whatever it is. Make yourself better, you can always be better. Start today, right now, right here. I'm going to spill all my coaching secrets. If you like any of them, take them and make them yours. Coaching college polo can be great fun and a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the sport by developing lots of young talent. I picked up a few things along the way during my five-season run with Virginia Polo (UVA). We won a bunch of national championships between the men and women and had arguably one of the best programs in the country. Yup, you guessed it, I stole lots of things from the other coaches and programs (I rejected things as well). This is what I learned if you're interested in coaching college polo or starting a program and you want to be good, really good. Have a clear mission. Take some time and think about your mission or the mission of the program. Do you want to win as many championships as possible? Do you want to provide a place where the students can de-stress and make friends? Whatever you are trying accomplish, write it down and be very clear about it. Every six months, review the mission and be certain that you are following it. Develop funding Yes, funding is not a bad word and it is a reality. How are you going to pay the bills? First get clear on your costs and know your bottom line. Figure out where your money is going to come from (donors, grants, player dues, benefit games etc.). Look into creating a non- profit tax exempt organization or possibly piggybacking off the non-profit status of your university. Get a lawyer to do the paperwork, keep immaculate records, understand the rules and follow them (it can be jail time if you slack on the rules). Get organized You must be the master of all that is before you if you want to succeed with a polo program. Get organized, completely organized, from the tack to the barn to the horse lists to the equipment— everything must in order. This will help you keep up with the horses' schedules (feed, shoes, teeth, clipping, meds, supplements, de-worming) and the safety of the equipment (girths, billets, stirrup leathers etc.). The players will feel safe and secure knowing you are on top of it and they will respect you when you give advice or make requests. This will also help you make a positive impression on donors, future members and even your insurance guy. If you are a sloppy pig (and I know a few too many) you will not get the respect you need to be successful. Here's a little saying I stole from one of the greats: organization in the barn leads to organization on the field. Get your act together and keep it that way. It helps to be in shape too. At some point you may want to add supportive programs to the agenda like strength training and nutrition—you will be expected to practice what you preach, plus, you'll look more professional (honest moment, the only professions where a big belly is accepted as Learn from some of the better coaches and keep it fun

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