At just 14-years-old, Wil Ballhaus is continuing to improve in the two short years he has been competing on the polo field. Claiming some wins this season with the Virginia United Polo League, Ballhaus has his sights set on Wellington, Florida, for the winter season. Learn more about how this young player entered the sport and how he is planning to make the best of the changes brought on by COVID-19 to improve his game in Florida.
How did you start playing polo?
“Ever since I can remember I have been around horses. My mom and sister have always ridden and then my dad joined by getting into polo. My parents always tried to get me into the saddle, but it never really worked out. It wasn’t until I was about 10 years old when I started to enjoy riding. I started on my dad’s horse Lechuga who was very easy with me and later that summer I started using a mallet with Tolito Ocampo as my coach. A year after that when I was 11 I started playing actual matches and the following year I won my first tournament, which was a 6-goal with my dad, Tolito Ocampo and our friend Maria. I loved polo and could definitely see myself playing more of it. Then finally this previous summer I played a lot of polo thanks to the Virginia United Polo League.”
What do you like the most about polo?
“There are many things I like about polo, but first I love the horses. I have strong bonds with each of my ponies, especially Lechuga, and I try to treat them all with respect. Secondly, I love that it’s something I share with my dad. I realize I’m very lucky to be able to share such an amazing experience with my dad and I’m grateful that this is something we both have in common. Lastly, I love the polo community. I have been able to meet so many people through polo who I am happy to be able to consider friends. The community is very kind and welcoming. It wasn’t until this year that I really realized how much being a part of it has changed me for the better.”
Do you have any idols in polo?
“My idols in polo are Nacho and Hilario Figueras, Tolito Ocampo, and my dad. Nacho [Figueras] has given me so many awesome polo experiences. One of the things I am most grateful for is Nacho giving my dad and I the Argentina polo experience by hosting us in our semi-annual visits down south. Hilario [Figueras] has been a great friend and teammate to me and his work ethic is admirable. Tolito [Ocampo] has also been a great teammate as well as an amazing coach. My dad started playing polo in his late 40s and has put in so much work to get to where he is. Not only is he an exceptional player, but he is also able to manage a business while also enjoying the amazing Virginia polo experience. I wish to be able to be as good a multitasker as he is someday.”
How did it feel to play very well in Virginia this year?
“This last summer has definitely been my best season by a large margin. Because of the hard work of my coach in helping me improve, to the amazing effort put in by my teammates, I was able to have great success.”
What does it mean to you to play in Wellington, Florida, in 2021?
“I am on schedule to be playing polo in Wellington, Florida, this winter. I was able to get this opportunity due to COVID-19 opening up the online schooling option. This step from Virginia to Florida is mind-blowing. When I started playing, I never thought I would be playing in Florida at all, but soon I will be.”
What is your dream as a polo player?
“My dream in polo is to be at least the best in the United States. I am surrounded by a very supportive group of people who all believe in me and my abilities to achieve my goals. It wasn’t until this season that it dawned on me that this was something attainable for me. It definitely is going to be difficult, but through my own and my teammates’ hard work, I know I can get there.”