S-VE sophomore finds a match in polo

A few weeks ago I received an email from a proud mom, Maria Russell, that her son’s polo team went undefeated the last weekend in January at the Northeast Preliminary Polo games. Polo? Michael Koski, a sophomore at Spencer-Van Etten High School, has become an enthusiastic polo player over the last year. He was invited to attend a beginner’s class at Cornell a year ago. The coaches liked what they saw in Michael and invited him to join the Cornell Interscholastic High School Polo Team.

Cornell hosted the Northeast Preliminary games in January and Michael’s team did so well that each of the team members was named to the all-star team for the tournament. Michael’s team competed again this past weekend in another regional tournament with hopes of going on to the national tournament.

I asked Michael how polo works and he explained that both he and the horses wear lots of protective gear to prevent injuries. A team has three members and over the course of a game, with four periods called chukkers, each team member will ride four different polo ponies, one for each chukker. The horses are in alternate chukkers, so they get to rest. The hosting team has to have a stable full of polo ponies because they provide the horses for both home and visiting teams. For one game, there are four strings of three horses each, plus one spare in case a horse gets injured.

Polo is played with a long mallet to strike a ball into the goal. There is considerable jockeying for physical position to be on the correct side for striking the ball. Bumping or shoving the opponent out of the way is part of the game. Skill, tactics, and strength all contribute to winning, as well as good balance. Michael said he sometimes ends up leaning way out of the saddle to strike the ball. You don’t want to lean too far and fall off, which happens sometimes, as a rider on the ground is at risk of being trampled.

All of this frigid weather makes me want to eat hot soups and stews. If you’d like to eat some, too, come to a Souper Stewpendous dinner from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Spencer Municipal Building.

There will be beef or chicken stew, plus four soups, with biscuits, salad, dessert and beverage — all for a freewill donation. Proceeds go to benefit the Spencer-Van Etten Food Cupboard. This hearty winter dinner is brought to you by the Spencer-Candor Lions Club with the two Donna’s (Burgh and Mistler) cooking. The two Donna’s used to cater together and are terrific cooks, so you won’t be disappointed.

Feb. 18 is also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent for Christians and the start of the S-VE Community Lenten Worship services. Over the six weeks of Lent, a joint worship service is held in one local church after another. The host pastor leads the service but, as often as possible, a guest pastor from another church brings the message.

I’ve always valued the Community Lenten services because I enjoy worshiping with other local believers and the fellowship after the service. This year’s Ash Wednesday service will be at noon at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 30 W. Tioga St., Spencer, with Pastor Delma West speaking. Next week’s service will be at noon at North Spencer Baptist Church with Pastor Richard Vanderpoel bringing the message.

David Lanning Jr., one of Spencer’s assistant fire chiefs, asked me to tell you, if you think that your neighbor’s house might be on fire, call 911! Don’t wait because minutes count. Response time is everything with house fires, so the sooner the fire department gets there, the better for the homeowner. It’s also better for the firefighters — much less danger to their lives.

Linda Lanning called me with the clothing sizes for the Chandler family, whose house was severely damaged by fire last week. The two little girls wear size 6/7 and 4/5. Their son wears a 2-3T. Mrs. Chandler wears sizes 2-5 and an adult medium shirt. Mr. Chandler wears 34/32 pants and XL shirt. Donated clothing can go to the Van Etten Elementary School and the nurse will see that they get them.

A pancake breakfast fundraiser for Spencer-Van Etten teacher Brian Grube’s medical expenses is scheduled from 8-11 a.m. Saturday at the SVE High School cafeteria

Grube and his wife, Jackie, are both lifelong residents of the S-VE area. He has been a physical education teacher in the Van Etten Elementary School for many years. He has been out of work for close to a year coping with the stress of his illness plus reduced income for his family.

Spencer-Van Etten rallies around its own in times of need. In addition to breakfast, there will also be gift baskets and an auction, so plan to come and stay for a while. As I write this, Grube was in New York City seeking a better diagnosis for his illness.

Spencer-Van Etten Town Talk appears every Tuesday. Submit items to Sally Marx at P.O. Box 723, Spencer, NY 14883, 589-6311, or SMarx25@htva.net.