FRAZEYSBURG — By day, they hold down a number of regular jobs such as hospice nurse, police officer, teacher, researcher, etc. But at least once a week, if the weather is good and dry, they come together as a polo team.
They are members of the Columbus Polo Club, and after years of practicing and playing in Granville, the club moved its home base to Frazeysburg because of space purposes. Now the team plays at Sheila Everett’s farm, in the same spaced used by the Alpine Polo School.
The team is one of two club teams in central Ohio — Westerville is the other one. There are also teams in Cleveland and in Cincinnati, who were scheduled to play a match against the Columbus team Saturday.
“In the ’80s, we had four teams in Columbus,” Everett said. “It has dwindled. … The U.S. Polo Association is really trying to bring polo back (to the Midwest).”
Nearly everyone on this team fell into the sport through their love of horses and stayed because of their love of the competition and the thrill.
“It’s really fast-paced,” said Connie Louthen, of Alexandria. “There are not a lot of team sports played with horses.”
One of the newest members of the team is Brad Carrel, who just started playing the sport a couple of years ago. The way he tells the story, he became a polo player completely by accident.
His sister lived in Egypt for a period of time and got into polo there. When she returned, she wanted to pursue the sport. Carrel, of Zanesville, told her she wouldn’t be able to find any kind of polo team or lessons around here but she found the Alpine Polo School in Frazeysburg, where the team practices.
And through her involvement, Carrel got into the sport, as well.
“It’s like hockey, without the goalie. Or ice. Or skates,” he said.
It’s kind of a joke, but also kind of not. The other players agreed hockey is probably the best comparison for people who have never played polo, or seen a match, or know any of the rules.
Most of the rules concern the safety of the horse and rider. Mallets are only used in the right hand. Players can only ride in the direction of the ball movement, so no cutting off other riders, which is dangerous and could lead to injury. Shots can be blocked and riders can be shoved, but no using elbows.
Goals are on opposite ends of a field and switch after each goal, to prevent one team from being at a disadvantage. Matches include four to six periods or “chukkers” that last seven and a half minutes each.
For professional teams, with enough horses available, horses are switched out after each chukker, too.
Local matches are scheduled for every Saturday afternoon for the rest of October at 11725 Alpine Highway in Frazeysburg. More information is available at www.columbuspolo.com.
What the team members want is for people to come watch them play. Carrel said the matches are family-friendly, and they can drive right to the field and park and watch and “tailgate the whole time”
“I’d love to see the community come out,” he said. “We’d like to stay here, we’d like to see it grow.”
More information about the Columbus Polo Team
Local matches are played at 11725 Alpine Highway in Frazeysburg. For more information about schedules and how to learn polo, check out www.columbuspolo.com.
To see a video of the Columbus Polo Team, check out www.ZanesvilleTimesRecorder.com.