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 20 of 75

19 I/I MAGAZINE - 2019 T he National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) hosted its first ever all-girls division at the national level. The Girls' All-Star Challenge was created in response to growing female participation at NYTS qualifier tournaments across the country. The NYTS program provides outdoor clubs with a framework for hosting a USPA sanctioned tournament designed specifically for youth players. Playing with and against peers fosters a fun and competitive environment for junior players to grow as players. In contrast to the majority of mainstream sports such as soccer, softball/baseball and basketball, female participation in polo at the youth level is growing. The Women's Sports Foundation found that one of the top five factors influencing female participation in mainstream sports is decreased quality of experience. As female players grow up, many find that the quality of their sports experience declines in comparison to males who often garner more attention in terms of quality of venues and support. The availability of quality, trained coaches for female players is often lacking as many of these coaches focus on boys' programs. Youth polo is in a unique position to appeal to both males and females. All NYTS qualifier tournaments are mixed. Approximately 43% of All-Star recipients are females, suggesting that at the local level many male and female players demonstrate similar skill levels. NYTS Championship teams are open to both males and females, but historically the zone team roster spots have been awarded to older male players holding a higher handicap to form the strongest team possible. With the introduction of the female division at NYTS National Championships, eight of the country's most promising youth female players exhibited their talent and dedication to the sport on a national stage. The two teams represented a myriad of clubs across the United States and Canada. "Both games were really fun to play. We tried to focus on playing team polo and spreading the ball down the field. I played in the Rincon League 8 Goal this summer and the fast pace really helped my game. I was really excited to be selected to play in the Girls All-Stars Challenge!" Cory Williams The eight female players were divided into two teams based on their women's handicaps and paired with a coach. Providing a high-quality coaching experience has been a foundation of the NYTS Championship weekend since its inception. Team USPA members Jim Wright and Steve Krueger were selected to lead the Black and White All-Star teams. Aside from time spent playing tournament matches and practice, the coaches organized team meetings, video reviews and practiced hitting penalties together. "We strive to find coaches who are engaged and can easily relate with young players coming up in the sport. This year five of the six coaches were Team USPA members. They all volunteer at NYTS qualifiers throughout the year so they are familiar with the program and they have plenty of energy to keep up with the players," said Amanda Snow, Director of Player Development. GIRLS' ALL-STAR CHALLENGE Hayley Heatley - Southern Methodist - '14 ALL-STAR BLACK Olivia Uechtritz Jenna Tarshis Cory Williams Lila Bennett ALL-STAR WHITE Hope Kerley Anna Alworth April Galindo Athena Malin

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