Last week, four new young American players joined Team USPA. The mission of Team USPA is to improve the sport of polo in the United States by developing the talent/skills of young American players through mentored training and playing opportunities, ultimately leading to a pool of higher-rated American players. The Team USPA program’s focus is the development of higher-rated American players. Ryan Kerley, Juanse Olivera, Finn Secunda and Mackenzie Weisz were selected to join the prestigious organization. Of the four new members, CLICKPOLOUSA got the chance to talk with Kerley about his path to Team USPA.
After a successful 12-goal season at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California), Kerley is currently spending some time in Calgary, Canada, where he is playing as much golf as he can before returning to California. While he is enjoying his brief break, he is ecstatic about what the future holds for him. “It means so much to me to finally be part of Team USPA. I’ve been working hard to be part of this team,” shared Kerley. “I believe this will help me develop a lot with great opportunities to allow me to grow as a player.”
“I’ve been working hard to be part of this team.” – Ryan Kerley
Kerley’s hometown is Indio, California, and he belongs to the third generation of polo players in his family. Both his father and grandfather shared his passion and his mother, Kerri Kerley, is one of the main photographers at both Eldorado Polo Club (Indio, California) and Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.
He has played at several different venues along the West Coast, including polo legend Memo Gracida’s club La Herradura LLC (Santa Ynez, California). Kerley has also travelled to Argentina to improve his polo skills at Paco de Narvaez’s farm. The 18-year-old player will move up to a 2-goal handicap in December.
CLICKPOLOUSA took time to sit down with Kerley and talk a bit more about his past experiences and his goals for the future with Team USPA.
Kerley, a third generation polo player joins three young American players as the newest members of Team USPA. ©Kerri Kerley
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
“I was born into the polo world, being a third-generation player. I started as soon as I could pick up a mallet. I began playing in the junior polo program at the Eldorado Polo Club. I have been playing mostly in Santa Barbara and Eldorado. I have played all year long the past two years and I hope to continue that. I have played with the Bush League organization, Farmers & Merchants Bank and Sol de Agosto throughout the past couple years.”
Will you have different responsibilities now that you belong to Team USPA?
“My responsibilities will remain the same, which are to continue to show my dedication and determination to being the best I can be in this sport, [while also] representing Team USPA with dignity.”
You played the 12-goal at Santa Barbara. What can you say about the tournament and your overall experience?
“This was my second 12-goal season in Santa Barbara. I believe the competition was truly some of the best you can get for the 12-goal level. I always enjoy playing and learning in this league. Just being around everyone who was playing made it enjoyable.”
Kerley competing for Bensoleimani.com in the 2021 Pacific Coast Open at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California. ©David Lominska
Where did you play this year before Santa Barbara?
“I played this winter at the Eldorado Polo Club. I played multiple leagues with some very enjoyable people. I spent the most time with the Bush League organization and I am very grateful for them including me and always making it a great time.”
How will your year continue?
“My year will continue in Santa Barbara, continuing to learn there. Then hopefully go to Argentina to play and grow as much as I can there. My goals for 2022 are to network myself better, make sure to secure jobs for the future, make sure I continue to improve and, of course, to end the year much better than I started.”
Do you have any favorite polo memories?
The memory I always go back to is winning my first bronze with Twin Palms. It was my first official season playing with Graham Bray, Juan Curbelo and Chris Maloney and we ended up winning the bronze. Another memory I think about is leaving school early when I was younger to go watch my dad play. That’s where I remember falling in love with the horses and polo as a whole.”
Kerley drives to goal. ©David Lominska
What do you think of the present of American polo?
“Polo is becoming more popular all over the U.S. It’s growing bigger and better in more states.”
What does polo mean to you?
“Polo honestly means everything to me. Whenever I am playing or even just around the horses, it takes my mind off of everything that might be going on and makes me happy. It truly allows me to put my focus all on one thing and I couldn’t possibly see myself doing anything that doesn’t include polo.”