LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) Polo, the sport of Kings.
“It’s the first team sport ever created,” explains Shapley Davis.
You may think of it as something done by royals, or maybe just an embroidered figure on a sports shirt. But at Washington and Lee University, they call it a college sport.
“We play indoors so we don’t have to deal with keeping the grass," says Amanda Ebling, President of the Washington and Lee Polo Club. "We also have walls, so it’s a little easier to play because you can hit off the walls. It’s a smaller, more controlled space to play in, so it’s more conducive to having beginners out here.”
And when they say beginners, they’re not kidding. Many of these players have never even ridden a horse before. But they say, once you get up there, there’s nothing like it.
“You get on a horse, and once you actually make a solid connection with a mallet – and these ponies are trained so well they just take off right after the ball," says Davis, who's captain of the men's team. "And it’s the most exciting rush you’re ever going to get. So you’re totally hooked.”
But, their coach warns, don’t think it’s going to be easy.
“You know, it’s a difficult sport," Roger Rinehart says. "It’s fun. Once you figure out how to control your horse, then you have to learn how to swing a mallet. It’s not easy. It’s one of the most difficult sports, I think, there is to play.”
Not that that means they’re all alone out there.
“There are not a ton of schools who play polo," according to Ebling. "Probably more than you think. I think there are about 45 teams in the country.”
With about eight close enough for regular play, giving these college students an educational opportunity they probably didn’t expect.
“It’s just a great way for students – men and women – to get involved, riding horses, having fun, and competing,” says Coach Rinehart.