Polo Players Edition

Intercollegeiate Interscholastic 2019

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/1072212

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Page 18 of 75

17 I/I MAGAZINE - 2019 M y first riding lesson was at the age of 8 in Atlanta, Georgia. Initially, I wasn't that interested in riding until I was introduced to polo through the owner of the riding school, Johnny Imerman. It was thrilling and unique for me to play a sport that incorporates the challenge of competitive sports with the added dimension of working with a live animal. My family had no history in horses or polo, but once I began playing, I knew that polo was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Early in my career I was introduced to Jolie Liston at the Atlanta Regional Polo Center and I began to get more serious about the sport. Jolie advanced my game by not only teaching me about polo, but by teaching me about everything that goes on behind the scenes to make polo possible. Jolie's dedication allowed me to play interscholastic polo through high school and gave me the opportunity to challenge my game against a variety of players, learn to ride a wide variety of horses, meet kids from across the country, and make lasting friendships that have extended through college. After competing at the Interscholastic level, I knew I wanted to compete in college. I was drawn to the SMU team, started and run by Tom Goodspeed, who in a short amount of time attracted top talent and developed a highly competitive program. I was lucky enough to play under coach Goodspeed, who was instrumental in raising my level of play and really helped me develop my talent to be able to compete and excel at the college level. During my time at SMU we made it to two Intercollegiate Finals, unfortunately losing both in shootouts. Part of what makes a collegiate national championship win so impressive is that for everyone who plays there is only a four-year window to make it happen. With such a short window every opportunity counts, which is why it can be so tough to be right on the cusp and come up short. Despite these difficult losses, the experience at Nationals was incredible and I am extremely proud to have been a part of the successful SMU program that Tom has put together. No matter how the seeding ended up each year, the SMU team always showed up to compete at the highest level and I am very excited to see what they can do in the future. Throughout my polo career I have had the chance to ride, take care of, and interact with a wide variety of horses. Experience with different types of horses has had a powerful impact on my level of play and appreciation for what these animals are capable of. Growing up working in polo really helped prepare me for intercollegiate/ interscholastic competition because of the large amount of time spent in the saddle and interacting with horses. I worked at a club where in addition to many people boarding their horses, there was a very large pool of horses available for lease. Naturally, when you are helping feed, exercise, and play such a large group of animals you become very comfortable around horses with different temperaments, levels of play, and backgrounds. At first it can be very intimidating, but the best way to become more comfortable is to put in as much time as possible in the saddle. When you are learning to ride it feels better to ride the same horse every time so that there is a level of consistency and comfort that allows you to try new things. However, improvement comes exponentially faster when you are constantly challenging yourself by trying new and different horses. When I started I would get nervous on a new horse because of my fear of the unexpected. However, with every new horse I rode and new challenge I experienced I became more and more confident with what I could handle. One thing I noticed about the better players and riders was that no matter what horse they were on they would find ways to get the most out of them. While some riders dream of having a string of perfect horses that are exactly the same, I believe the beauty of polo is that every horse is unique and you must find different ways to work with each horse to maximize their potential. My experience of playing on a wide variety of horses has helped me compete at the highest level. Through polo I have made lifelong friends and had unique opportunities to travel and compete throughout the United States and overseas. I look forward to staying involved in the polo community as I finish up school and start my career. My hope is to be able to help grow the sport and give more people the opportunity to add a new dimension of excitement to their lives. PTF MALE INTERCOLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR JT Shiverick Southern Methodist University "Experience with different types of horses has had a powerful impact on my level of play and appreciation for what these animals are capable of."

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