The United States Polo Association would like to congratulate four newly certified polo instructors: Connor Deal of Aiken South Carolina, Gates Gridley of Wellington, Florida, Katie Johnson of Lowell, Michigan, and Erica Kratz of South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

The mission of the USPA Certified Polo Instructor Program is to identify and educate equine professionals by requiring industry standards for teaching the sport of polo. Special emphasis is placed on developing programs that will equip polo instructors to coach the next generation of polo students by promoting sportsmanship and safety, in order to facilitate a lifelong love of the sport. This is accomplished by providing guidelines for riding instruction, horsemanship, and introducing students to the sport in a safe, sequential manner, additionally offering certified instructors extensive managerial education. Tools used to accomplish this goal include instructive videos from leading experts, the USPA Certified Polo Instructor Manual, interactive teaching symposiums and clinics, written exams, and continued education courses in order to raise the level of polo instruction for the continued sustainability of the sport of polo.

connor deal

Connor Deal
USPA Certified Polo Instructor, Level 1
Location: Aiken, South Carolina.
•Phone: (540)905-6294
•Email: deal.connor9@gmail.com
•Website: N/A

A member of the USPA since 2010, Connor initially began playing polo to help a friend fill a space on an interscholastic team. Shortly after, he was hooked and three years later ended up winning the 2013 Open Interscholastic Championship! Coming from a riding background, Deal grew up fox hunting and helping his mom teach riding lessons. Currently a member of Team USPA, Connor also works with the USPA as a clinician and works as an assistant coach to Tiger Kneece for the new interscholastic boys team at University of South Carolina, Aiken.

What has been one of your favorite teaching memories?
“I love seeing students progress. A lot of teaching is not about what you say but how you encourage. I love seeing kids especially break through barriers in learning just from encouragement.”

gates

Gates Gridley
USPA Certified Polo Instructor, Level 1
Location: Wellington, Florida.
•Phone: (203)232-6935
•Email:jgridley@equestriansport.com
•Website: www.ipc.coth.com

Longtime player Gates Gridley earned his USPA Instructor Certification in 2018. From early childhood Gridley’s family owned a myriad of different horse and pony breeds. Gridley found a love of polo through his father’s influence, where he thrived in the team competition the sport offered. In 2017 Gridley began his teaching career as lead instructor for the International Polo Club (IPC) in Wellington, Florida, and Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, North Carolina. Additionally, he was a member of Team USPA for five years and honed his skills by mentoring with Joey Casey and his father Joe Casey for four years as well as Owen Rinehart and Beth Skolnik during the Fall of 2016.

What has been one of your favorite teaching memories?
“All of the students that we have at TIEC and IPC offer amazing memories but I am especially proud of one of my first clients, who has been playing polo less than a year and has completely thrown himself into the sport. That kind of commitment is something that you dream about.”

katie

Katie Johnson
USPA Certified Polo Instructor, Level 1
Location: Lowell, Michigan.
•Phone: (616)889-3894
•Email: kmjpolo@gmail.com
•Website: www.grandrapidspolo.com

Growing up in a horse family, Johnson’s mom and sister are both hunter/jumper instructors and her dad played polo and trained polo ponies. She grew up showing in the A circuit, traveled with her dad for pol, and spent her summers in Toronto working for a polo family. Initially teaching basic riding lessons at age 16, she progressed to teaching riding and polo later in life. Today she, and her family, run a successful polo school where she teaches in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the summer and Wellington, Florida, in the winter.

What has been one of your favorite teaching memories?
“Those “ah-ha” moments when I’ve been working with a student and they finally grasp a concept or shot, pure joy!”

erica

Erica Kratz
USPA Certified Polo Instructor, Level 1
Location: South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
•Phone: (410)274-7945
•Email: erica.emk@gmail.com

Erica earned her USPA Instructor Certification in 2018. Her introduction to polo began in 6th grade at the Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Maryland, where she played all through high school. After graduation, she continued here polo career by attending Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and competing collegiately. Kratz initially began teaching at Garrison Forest helping with their Monday night community classes. After college, she helped coach the Brandywine Interscholastic Women’s team for a season. Since moving to Massachusetts, she started teaching at Boston Polo and Stage Hill, and coached the budding Wellesley Polo team for two seasons. Currently, she is teaching at the Myopia Polo Club and Myopia Stables in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where she has been for the past year. Kratz is the proud recipient of the Sportsmanship Award from the Northeast Regionals her senior year at Skidmore and is a licensed riding instructor through the state of Massachusetts.

What has been one of your favorite teaching memories?
“My favorite part of teaching is working with beginners, especially kids. My favorite moments in working with beginners are the huge, beaming smiles across their faces when they’ve just accomplished something or done something well. It’s the combination of joy and growth visible in those moments that make teaching rewarding.”

Tags:  International Polo Club Palm Beach  Myopia Polo Club