FAMILY TIES Past and present collide at the first polo Women’s East Coast Open

HAMILTON — North Shore residents have probably driven by the Myopia Country Club hundreds of times, and if the name doesn’t ring a bell, then the view certainly does.

When traveling down Hamilton’s winding roads, a vast field appears just past the downtown area. The sight causes curious heads to turn and sparks a similar question for most people: what is all of that land used for? Ultimately, it’s used for polo, but the Myopia grounds are filled with a rich history that many are unaware of.

On Sunday afternoon, the Myopia Hunt Club played host to the first ever Women’s East Coast Open, where the Women’s International Polo Network defeated Avalon Farm, 9-5. Initial footwork for the event began in March when Dan Keating, owner of the Newport Polo Club, was looking to give his daughter Minnie more opportunities in the sport.

“I had a conversation with my daughter about how she wanted to compete in the U.S. Women’s Open,” said Keating. “The problem is that the level of competition is such a step up from the regional tournaments; its filled with the best players in the world.”

Keating learned to play at Myopia and competed in the original East Coast Open, which was often held at the sacred grounds. The experiences from his playing days led Keating to believe that Myopia would be perfect for his idea, so he reached out to an old friend.

“Really, the first call I made was to Peter Poor,” said Keating. “After I talked to him about it, he jumped right on and we got to work. Our goal was to create an equal pathway for our daughters to compete.”

Poor, founder of the Stage Hill Polo school, was an avid player as a young man. His grandfather was a driving force in creating polo clubs around the North Shore area, but spent most of his time competing on Myopia’s grounds.

After his retirement, Poor dedicated himself to the sport by opening Stage Hill Polo, which has been open and operating for 40-plus years.

“I played all the sports in college, you name it and I played it,” said Poor. “But I’m telling you, nothing compares to polo. It’s been in my family for years; my grandfather played, my father played, I played and now I get to watch my two daughters play and I’m so happy.”

Poor, who was 16 at the time, lost his father on the Myopia field back in 1960 in a riding accident. Despite the tragic event, Poor still holds on to the positive memories Myopia and his father gave him as a young man.

“He was my mentor and my hero,” said Poor. “He showed me how to play and taught me everything I know. When he was alive, he encouraged as many people as he could to play the sport. Now, I try and do the same … I want to see this sport grow.”

One of Poor’s daughters, Alyson, is a member of the newly-crowned Women’s East Coast champion squad. The University of Kentucky grad has spent the last several years playing for the Women’s International Polo Network, and attested to her father’s dedication in growing the sport.

“He’ll literally get anyone to ride and he loves it,” said Alyson. “He would do anything to keep the sport alive and he’s been so involved for so long. I’m really proud of him and what he’s done for polo.”

For Dan Keating, the event seemed unlikely when he first reached out for help. However, because of Poor’s hard work relentless efforts, the first Women’s East Coast Open was brought to life and Keating had no one to thank but his old friend.

“There are very few riders who’s lineage doesn’t go through Peter,” said Keating. “Ask anyone in this region, and their introduction to polo can be traced back to him. If it wasn’t for Peter, I’m not sure there would be any polo in the area.”

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