Whether she is scaling a mountain in Washington, shredding the snowy slopes of the Cascade Mountains, or fishing in Wyoming, USPA Pacific Northwest Circuit Governor Sheryl Sick is always on the move. Vibrant and outdoorsy, Sick’s Instagram account (@sherylsick) is a vivid expression of her wanderlust, showcasing trips to idyllic polo destinations and adventurous excursions around the world. By trade a technology sales executive rooted in Seattle, Washington, Sick intentionally aligned her career path to suit her polo lifestyle, enabling her the freedom to pursue her passion while growing professionally. Assuming the responsibility of Circuit Governor unexpectedly after the passing of her good friend Rob Petersen in 2017, Sick has continued to immerse herself in the polo community, spending the past two summers traveling across the circuit’s seven states (and Canada) visiting and playing at as many clubs as possible.
An intercollegiate polo alumna, Sick has competed nationwide and around the world including Canada, Argentina, Ireland, Jamaica and Mexico. Now with five horses of her own, based out of the Seattle Polo and Equestrian Center in Enumclaw, Washington, she enjoys an active schedule of polo adventures year-round. Recently reelected during the 2018 USPA Circuit Governor election, Sick shared her polo journey and discusses what she has learned over the past year representing the Pacific Northwest.
What is your equestrian background and how did you become involved in polo?
“I started riding at age seven when my father was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. I was infatuated with horses as a child so my mom took me to a local German riding school where they taught the basics of horsemanship. When my dad was relocated to Fort Riley, Kansas, I started three-day eventing and fox hunting.
During my freshman year of college at Washington State University, I was introduced to polo after seeing an ad in the college paper for team tryouts. If you could stay on the horse you were on the team! I continued to play arena polo all four years and had the opportunity to become team captain and club president my junior and senior year. I spent my summers grooming and playing outdoor polo at the Spokane Polo Club in Spokane, Washington. The Dix family who founded the club were instrumental in my introduction to the polo world, and I’m grateful for their guidance.”
How did your love for polo affect or influence your career choice?
“My family always encouraged that if I loved something I should pursue it. They would be supportive, however I would have to work hard to support it financially on my own. It has been a labor of love to be able to do what I do today and travel. My career choice to pursue sales was driven by my desire to play polo. Depending on what I did, I knew the sales path would allow me to make unlimited income and have a flexible schedule. I knew that if I worked smarter within my profession, that effort would afford me more opportunities to play the sport I loved.”
“My career choice to pursue sales was driven by my desire to play polo. I knew that if I worked smarter within my profession, that effort would afford me more opportunities to play the sport I loved.” – Sheryl Sick
What are your favorite hobbies outside of polo?
“I’ve been snowboarding since I was 12 years old, longer than I’ve been playing polo; the mountains are my second passion outside of horses. The Pacific Northwest has a beautiful range called the Cascades running from Canada down to Oregon.
I had an awesome opportunity to summit Mount Rainier in July this year. It is the tallest peak in Washington at just over 14,400 feet and is a beautiful backdrop for several of our member clubs. It is covered in glaciers and snow year round and weather patterns can turn extreme in minutes. We physically trained for five months and our team made it to the summit with 40 pound packs and 40 mph winds swirling around us. It was an incredibly amazing, beautiful and scary experience and one I checked off the bucket list!”
What are some unique challenges your circuit faces?
“From my travels, I have learned that the challenges various clubs face are not incredibly different from one another. Some have more or less resources than others, however the way their members handle their challenges, varies across the board. There are so many unique personalities within the sport and everyone has their vision of what their polo experience should be.
I frequently hear from people, ‘I didn’t even know there was polo here or there.’ Growing a local awareness is important so I encourage many clubs to use and take advantage of social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) for promoting what they offer. It is the easiest and most affordable way to target a wide audience and create a portal to the sport. We have a dedicated Pacific Northwest Circuit Facebook page (Northwest Circuit Polo) which clubs can post their tournament dates and details, as well as horses, tack, and equipment for sale. This has helped to keep our members connected and supports the polo community in many ways.”
What are some of the biggest goals you hope to accomplish for your circuit?
“Introducing and cultivating new players to the sport and keeping it fun throughout their journey, is always the main goal. Whether they want to play 0-goal or 12-goal polo, we have clubs within the circuit that offer this and everything between. Many of our players travel and support each other’s annual tournaments and support one another. These exchanges create new perspectives and a reciprocal relationship between clubs. This is a tradition to continue as I think it is beneficial to share experiences, best practices and ideas based on what is being done at each of their clubs.”
What is something that you’ve already been able to accomplish that you are most proud of?
“We had a goal in 2017 to promote youth polo and host the first National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) Qualifier in Western Canada. In July 2018, this was hosted by the Black Diamond Polo Club in Alberta, Canada. It was great to see this come together. The level of sportsmanship displayed by our youth players was incredible. They were super competitive, well rounded, and fun to watch, and I am excited to see them grow as players.
Another initiative was to educate clubs on the USPA’s PUMP8 program. The ability to have affordable access to professional umpiring has helped improve the polo experience at many clubs. In my opinion, this is one of the best USPA programs many of our circuit clubs have taken advantage of the last two polo seasons.”
What have you enjoyed about traveling to clubs throughout the circuit?
“Each club is unique and has their own traditions and personalities, so for me it’s been fun to take part in these events and get to know the members. Everyone in polo has a special story to tell and there is never a dull moment. It has been an amazing experience to dive into our polo community and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it all.”
If you’d like to get in contact with Sheryl about your club she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.