Polo Players Edition

FEB2019

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.

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24 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N USC-Aiken kicks off inaugural alumni tournament PHOTOS BY ERICA HUYLER F undraising is an integral part of any I/I program, from raising funds to care for horses and entry fees, to travel expenses. You have likely heard the proverb "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." With the same idea in mind, through the USPA's I/I Start Up & Enhancement Fundraising program, the I/I team works directly with programs to get the most out of their fundraising efforts. Funding is available to both interscholastic and intercollegiate teams to help offset the costs of putting on a fundraiser, and built into any funding request is staff support. It can be difficult for a team to come up with startup costs for a fundraiser, and a risky endeavor to put what little funds it does have into an event that may or may not be successful. For the application process, teams must provide a detailed plan for the fundraiser, including an outline of the event, expenses, expected income and estimated profit. Staff and committee members advise clubs on areas where they can cut expenses, increase revenue, share knowledge and ideas that have worked or haven't worked with other clubs, and in turn produce a more profitable event. With the guidance of staff and the safety net of covered expenses, teams have the confidence of spending their budget and putting on a successful fundraiser. At the conclusion of the fundraiser, the club has to provide a report on the event and complete a debrief with the committee on its fundraising efforts. Further follow up includes putting a plan in place for the following year to improve on the event. We see a wide range of requests for fundraisers, including concession sales at a home sporting event, polo galas and our most popular event, an alumni tournament. Alumni tournaments are one of our favorites to see, as they offer the most return on investment—and I'm not just talking about dollars and cents. Not only is it a great way to raise funds, but getting alumni back involved in the program is great for the team and beneficial for the sport. Alumni can offer support in different areas, from coaching, to umpiring, to clinics, marketing support and club awareness. By engaging local alumni, it is an instant fan base for the team and an income stream for donations and merchandise sales. A basic alumni tournament can be as simple as inviting past team members for a night of community chukkers. The team provides the arena and the horses, and alumni pay a fee to play per chukker. If the team already has access to the arena and horses, all funds coming in go straight to the club. The event can expand as much as the resources allow. This past December, the USC-Aiken intercollegiate team hosted its inaugural I/I alumni tournament. As a newly reinstated team this fall, the alumni base for the USC-Aiken team is near non- existent, however, there is a strong I/I alumni base in the Aiken area. The team capitalized on the fact that, although from different rival teams, all alumni are fans and supporters of the I/I program, and were eager to help support the new local collegiate team. The team began by putting out feelers to the local Aiken polo community to gage interest and create a master list of all the I/I alumni in the Aiken and surrounding Southeastern area. The interest was immediate, and so began the planning for the alumni event. All for funds Charlie Hutchinson jumps out front in the alumni match in Aiken.

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