To say the 2017 Fall Fandango was well attended would be an understatement. Sixteen teams, five colleges, six interscholastic teams and regular USPA members competed in fifteen USPA arena tournaments played in seventeen games over Veteran’s Day Weekend.

Marguerite Buchman takes the ball in front of Tess Sabatini as Amelia Fisher and Devan Groves follow.
Marguerite Buchman takes the ball in front of Tess Sabatini as Amelia Fisher and Devan Groves follow.

The play in the arena was not the only activity going on either. USPA Umpires, LLC conducted arena umpire training with Umpire Instructor Bradley Biddle at the helm. The clinic focused on new tournament conditions that are being used and also offered “tune-ups” and improvement for previously certified umpires, as well as gained some new certifications for a few participants at the clinic. Biddle also did a Rules Review for all of the teams and coaches with plenty of questions and answers.

Bradley Biddle of USPA Umpires, LLC gives a rules review to the teams and coaches.
Bradley Biddle of USPA Umpires, LLC gives a rules review to the teams and coaches.

In addition to the umpire and rules training, Robin Sanchez gave two workshops for the teams, umpires and coaches. First, was a tack safety workshop where safety checks and proper use of overgirths were demonstrated. Second, was an equine welfare workshop where players participated in Body Condition Scoring. Nutrition and horse health care were also discussed.

As it was Veteran’s Day weekend, the event also played host to three Military tournaments where each team in the tournament had family members in the Armed Forces. There was also a special Veteran’s Salute with flags from four branches of the U.S. military as well as the United States flag. The players and participants thanked all who have served.

Lara Semmelmann puts a hook on John Hand.
Lara Semmelmann puts a hook on John Hand.

When Colorado State University’s Women’s Junior Varsity (JV) team member Kelsey Naftel was asked about the weekend, she replied, “this weekend has been a blast. It’s been exciting and we just love the whole polo experience.” Sarah Condio added, “seeing all the other teams has been my favorite part. Everybody has been so friendly and we’ve all been rooting each other on.” Jasmine Gallegos chimed in, “and the horses, the horses have been great. Pedro is the best horse.”

Umpire trainee Patrick MacLeod bowls the ball in for OSU women vs A&M JV women web
Umpire trainee Patrick MacLeod bowls the ball in for OSU Women versus Texas A&M Women’s JV.

Two Wishes Ranch in Lockhart, Texas, part of the Central Texas Polo Association (CTPA), was the host site for the event. The Reeves Family who own the ranch recently built the new arena. In addition to the newly constructed arena, plenty of stabling and a central location proved to be a good site for the Fall Fandango.

“Over the last few years, our member’s polo skills have improved greatly,” said Texas A&M Polo Club President Omar Polio.” This event was perfect for them to showcase their newly learned skills. Many of our participants, including me, had never before participated in a legitimate USPA tournament, but thanks to the organizers and host, it was finally made possible. Our members were excited to gain membership to USPA and play against other schools for the first time. With events like these, I can see the sport of polo gaining more ground and becoming even more accessible to everyone. If it wasn’t for the efforts of all involved, I would never be playing polo, let alone in a tournament.” Polio played in the Sportsmanship Cup – Colorado State University versus The Central Region. Polio represented Texas A&M with additional players from Oklahoma State and Texas Tech filling out the Central Region.

Will Walton with the neck shot as Zak Coleman moves to defend.
Will Walton with the neck shot as Zak Coleman moves to defend.

Incredibly helpful participation from teams and umpires made the event run smoothly. Special mention goes to Sarah Coleman, Karl Hilberg, Ariel Rodriguez, Dan Coleman, Javier Insua, Doug Brunet, Gretchen Morris, Devan Groves, Tess Sabatini and many of the teams and university club members.

“This is the ten-year anniversary of Fall Fandango,” said organizer Robin Sanchez. “It started as an idea from Will Tankard. When I started running the Polo Training Foundation’s (PTF) Brushy Creek facility, he said, ‘we should have a fall tournament and all the teams can come, hang out together and get their seeding games done in one weekend.’ It was a great idea. With PTF, Steve Lane and the coaches help, we grew it into an umpire training and player clinic. After the unfortunate closing of Brushy Creek, we moved Fall Fandango to Houston, Midland and now Austin. It has been an event close to my heart and has always built so much camaraderie for the Central Region and its teams. It has also been very beneficial and educational by giving players, coaches and club members access to information and people who can help them.”

Ariel Rodriguez - Arena maintenance master of Two Wishes Ranch - with Oklahoma State Polo Club web
Ariel Rodriguez, arena maintenance master of Two Wishes Ranch with Oklahoma State Polo Club.

TOURNAMENT RESULTS

Texas Military Nimitz Cup: Being the Change defeated San Antonio and CTPA interscholastic teams.
SPI Women’s Arena Challenge: Colorado State University Women’s JV defeated Texas A&M Women’s JV .
Heart of Texas Women’s Challenge: Texas Tech Women defeated University of Texas Women.
Southwest Circuit Congressional Cup: Retama Interscholastic defeated Willow Bend Interscholastic.
East Texas Arena Challenge: Colorado State University Men’s JV defeated Oklahoma State University Men.
Heart of Texas Arena Challenge: Being the Change Interscholastic defeated County Line Girls Interscholastic.
Heart of Texas Nimitz Cup: Oklahoma State University Women defeated Texas A&M Women’s JV.
SPI Arena Challenge: Willow Bend Interscholastic defeated San Antonio Interscholastic.
East Texas Nimitz:Texas Tech Men defeated Oklahoma State University Men.
•Texas Military Women’s Arena Challenge: Colorado State University Women’s JV defeated University of Texas Women.
Southwest Circuit Sportsmanship Cup: Colorado State University Men’s JV defeated The Central Region.
Southwest Circuit Sherman Memorial Cup: Forty Flowers defeated Texas Tech Men.
•Texas Military Arena Challenge: Retama Interscholastic defeated Being the Change Interscholastic.
East Texas Women’s Arena Challenge: Oklahoma State University Women defeated Texas Tech Women.
•ATX Arena Challenge: CTPA Girls Interscholastic defeated County Line Girls Interscholastic.