Polo For All: PW Talks with Kareem Rosser

In Crossing the Line (St. Martins, Feb.) Rosser recounts how he ended up on the polo field.

What was the most formative experience for you in your polo career?

Myself, my brother, and our good friend Brandon won our first national title my senior year in high school in 2011. We realized then that not only were we the only African Americans playing polo, we were also the only ones playing at a competitive level. It also opened the door for other Black people to enter the sport.

What inspired you to write this book?

You can only cover so much in a 15-minute television spot or interview, so I wanted to share the full arc of how my teammates and I gained the tools and skills necessary to compete at higher levels of polo.

Tell us about the Work to Ride program.

It was founded in 1994 by Lezlie Hiner and is an organization that serves underserved lower income communities in Philadelphia. It really shaped the trajectory of my life, because I grew up riding horses there and began my riding career at eight as a result of the program and continued until I was 18.

What would you say to young boys and girls of color aspiring to play polo?

Don’t let the fact that there are very few people of color stop you from wanting to pursue the sport if you’re interested. Just because you don’t see anyone who looks like you doesn’t mean that you would not be able to excel. We didn’t have the means that others had playing the sport, and we didn’t look like anyone else playing the game, but we thought that was unique and an opportunity for us to be pioneers.

Tell us about your childhood horse, Cholo.

I was actually coaching a kid this past weekend and he was riding Cholo. Cholo taught me responsibility and structure, because I had to show up early to the barn to take care of him and turn him into a polo pony. He was an ex-racehorse, so he only knew how to run fast and turn left. I still see him often and feed him treats. I would ride over 200 horses a year because we have a different horse every game, but none were quite as great as Cholo.

What is one thing you would want non–polo players to take away?

I would want them to know that polo is not just for the generationally wealthy. We’re living proof that polo is a great sport that is rewarding, fun, and accessible to all.A version of this article appeared in the 11/23/2020 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Polo For All

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