It was a back-to-basics for the Culver Academies polo teams over the past weekend.
Connor Deal, a United States Polo Association certified clinician, spent Friday through Sunday in the Jud Little Riding Hall working with the varsity, junior varsity, and novice players on the basics of the indoor game.
Deal’s focused first on individual fundamentals, then team tactics during his “coaching chukkers,” where he would stop play to discuss fouls and/or team strategy. That strategy centered on teaching the players techniques for when the ball is along the boards and in the corner.
Deal was certified by the USPA in 2018, the same year he graduated from the University of South Carolina. He is originally from Culpeper, Virginia, and briefly played professionally. During that time, he would play matches at the Roseland Polo Club, which is part of the King Family Vineyards in Crozet.
With a degree in business administration with a focus in accounting, Deal ended up as the vineyards’ accounting manager and member of the company’s polo team. He said he fits “four-to-five” UPSA clinics into his busy schedule every year.
Culver Academies is one of only three boarding/high schools in the country to offer polo as a varsity sport. Several players have gone on to play intercollegiate polo, including CGA alumnae Alexandra (Ally) Vaughn ’16 and Ashley Dillard ’17, who play at Texas A&M University. They won back-to-back national titles in 2018 and 2019 and were on their way to a third crown before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 tournament.