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 32 of 75

31 I/I MAGAZINE - 2019 PTF FEMALE INTERSCHOLASTIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR Cory Williams Central Coast Polo Club I t goes without saying that polo's adrenaline rush is both unrivaled and addicting. However, polo also teaches and reinforces so many of life's important lessons. Polo has molded me into who I am by teaching, and occasionally reteaching these lessons to me. I am so grateful to thrive and compete in a community that I have learned so much from. I started playing polo when I was 13, the summer before 8th grade. I took my first polo lesson with Sunny Hale on a chunky chestnut pony named Tyler and was hooked. After a few weeks of my incessant nagging, my parents signed me up for Mike and Geannie Sheller's Polo Training Center summer sleep-away camp. We rode for six hours a day and I loved every minute of it. Sunny's determined character, dedication, and passionate approach to the sport quickly made her my idol. The foundation for my polo aspirations can be directly linked to that first summer and this overarching polo/life lesson: to be good at something you have to work hard. After that summer camp I began playing in the Santa Barbara Polo Club Coaching league. Those two chukkers on Saturdays and Sundays were the highlight of my week. At this point the ball was not my main concern - I just loved galloping on an open field. I played in kids tournaments too, meeting people with the same passion, and soon making amazing, lifetime friends. We were probably a menace to the entire Santa Barbara Polo Club, but we had a great time running around at all hours playing golf cart polo, stick and balling, playing foot-mallet polo, and giving the horses bubble baths. Coaching league and kids polo taught me my next two life lessons: life is not all work - have fun and polo is a small community - embrace the friendships. Once summer ended and 8th grade began, I got down to business with my first Interscholastic season coached by John Wesley. I learned to be brave, embracing the brand new team with an open mind. Coach Wesley taught me the importance of man before ball and pushed me to play "real polo" rather than just loping around. That year I realized I wanted to take polo seriously. This mindset carried over as I played I n t e r s c h o l a s t i c competitively on both a Central Coast Polo Girls Team and Open Team under Coach Megan Judge. There were many life lessons here, but the two that stand out were to be coachable and learn from those around you. When I was 14, I graduated from the coaching league and began playing in the Pro-Pool. The Pro-Pool in Santa Barbara consists of one professional player and three amateurs. We get shuffled between teams every weekend in a mock-tournament format. Initially, the pace caught me off-guard as did playing with people significantly more experienced than me. Additionally, I was often the youngest and only female player on the field. Pro-Pool taught me humility. Around the time I began playing in the Pro-Pool I got my first two ponies: Plata and Martini. These two horses were saints. They put up with my complete inadequacy as a new horse owner and helped me survive each game unscathed. All of my horses hold a special place in my heart, but these two undoubtedly left a mark on me. As a 14 year-old taking care of two additional lives, I really had to step it up. This polo experience taught "...through the horses I've ridden, the coaches I have learned from, the experiences that have shaped me, and the friends that have grounded me, I am optimistic about my future on the field and in life."

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