Story courtesy of Ashleigh Fox for The Sheridan Press
Polo traditionally takes on an element of sophistication, but at the Big Horn Equestrian Center [Big Horn, Wyoming], employees, including announcer Ethan Galis, work to make the sport accessible to people from every background.
Galis is especially known to bring a sense of humor and ease to the sport.
“I try to bring (my humor) to polo because most announcers don’t do that and I feel like people don’t like the ‘hoity-toityness’ of polo,” Galis said. “They want to have the relaxed environment, so that’s what I try to bring into it.”
Galis grew up riding horses in his hometown of Grapevine, Texas, near Fort Worth. When he moved to the University of Texas at Austin for post-secondary education, he had to leave his horses behind. Two years into his time at Texas, his parents suggested he join a polo club to get back in the saddle. He started in the world of three-on-three indoor arena polo. The way college polo works, though, is the players must work as much as they play. The normal options for the polo athletes typically include walking or handling tack for horses, but an opening allowed Galis to find his true fit in giving back to the sport he now loved dearly.
“They needed an announcer and I figured out that that was the best job to have, so I just took it,” Galis said. “I sat up at the center and announced and that was my work. It was great for me.”
The gift of gab came naturally for Galis, whose father was known to keep people entertained.
“[My dad] is very… he’s not one to leave out the words, and most of the words he uses tend to make you laugh,” Galis said. “I guess I follow suit from him.”
Audience members and members of the Big Horn Polo Club alike recognize and appreciate Galis’ expert knowledge of the sport and his unique ability to keep information understandable for those new to polo.
“(Galis has) been here on and off about four or five years and his skills at announcing are amazing,” Perk Connell, a director of the polo games said. “He has really improved. You don’t get tired of hearing him.”
Connell explained that some polo announcers use the same quotes or riffs during the course of a game, but Galis keeps his commentary quite colorful. It also helps that Galis learned to commentate on the more fast-paced, hectic version of polo in the arena.
“People don’t like watching a game they don’t understand,” Galis said. “I try to explain as concisely as I can; the college (arena) definitely helped me out with that.”
Although he “got bit by the polo bug” after performing in the arena, he prefers the quick speeds and space the grass polo field provides. A unique draw of Galis’ color commentary, outside of his intervals of humor, is his digestible explanation of the rules. The college arena forced him to explain the rules clearly and concisely.
“Even when I was learning the rules I don’t think I had a firm understanding of the rules until I’d been playing for three years because they’re complicated,” Galis said.
He understands polo comes with a complicated rulebook, so explaining it to visitors helps keep the audience engaged and entertained.
When Galis isn’t in the grandstands spitting rules and candor through the microphone, he is selling horses, helping with club events and sharing his acoustic guitar skills with visitors of the newly-added Friday Night Lights polo matches.
“We think he is our secret weapon for this polo club,” Connell said. “It’s one of the many things that totally makes our club very unique.”
Galis can be found at his post during Big Horn Polo Club games Sundays at 1:00pm and 3:00pm throughout the summer and on Friday nights, bringing knowledge, understanding and a little bit of humor to the sport of polo.