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30th Anniversary Season

BMW of Encinitas Wins 8-Goal USPA Spreckels Cup Match in OT

By | 30th Anniversary Season, Charity Event, Player's Corner, Sunday Polo, Tournament Recap | No Comments

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Polo in San Diego, where surf and turf meet, is well and alive. The final tournament for the season was the 8-goal Spreckels Cup match in front of a sold out crowd on Sunday October 2. The match was held to honor the tradition of the cup and to benefit the club’s charity partner, Dress For Success San Diego, a non-profit that empowers women to succeed in the work place and improve the quality of life for their families.

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Team BMW Encinitas with Nour-Dean Anakar in the one position, Nicholas Ramos playing two, Rodrigo Salinas playing three and Doug Blumenthal at four, took on Roseville Motors with Topo Mendez at one, Juan Jose Gonzales at two, Ashton Wolf at three and Eric Hammon at four. The match was a hard fought battle from start to finish with Roseville Motors jumping out to a fast 3-1 lead in the first chuker with two goals from Mendez and one by Gonzalez. BMW Encinitas came roaring back with five-consecutive goals with Anakar and Ramos knocking in two each and Salinas adding one. The second half was a tight defensive battle with neither team able to score until the last chukker. Wolf and Mendez each scored to force overtime. Anakar converted a penalty 3 in extra time to bring home the win for Team BMW.

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The 107-year-old Spreckels Cup was presented to Team BMW Encinitas by USPA Governor-at-Large Scott Walker, USPA Committee Member Tony Yahyai and special guest, David Lewis, the grandson of John D.Spreckels. Topo Mendez won MVP and Ashton Wolf’s horse Chica won Best Playing Pony. The trophy presentation was followed by both teams soaking each other with champagne. After the Spreckels Cup presentation, the club celebrated the season finale with a members’ barbecue party.

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Becky Schaller, Kristi Hammon, Ashton Wolf, Eric Hammon and Ellen Greenhill win the pro-pool Spreckels Cup!

Congrats to the first and second place pro-pool teams who played for the Spreckels Cup earlier in the afternoon. Team Monteverde/RosevilleMotors was victorious! Kristi Hammon won MVP and Eric Hammon’s horse won Best Playing Pony.

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Marc Berry, Juan Jose Gonzales, Tony Yahyai & Nour-Dean Anakar win 2nd place of the pro-pool Spreckels Cup! On stage with announcer Steve Lewandowski and David Lewis, grandson of John D. Spreckels.

Thank you all for a wonderful summer season! We are winding down with Fall Polo through October and arena play through the end of the year. If you’re interested in lessons or playing polo, feel free to reach out to us at chukkers@sandiegopolo.com or 858-481-2247. Otherwise, we’ll see you on Opening Day 2017!

The Sport of Queens

By | 30th Anniversary Season, Just For Fun, Polo History, Polo Stories | No Comments

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The Sport of Queens by Andrea Damewood

Nowadays, the sight of a woman charging down a polo pitch at breakneck speed, her legs thrown on each side of her pony as she flies after the ball is a gloriously common one—especially as female riders make up the fastest-growing segment in US Polo today.

In 1908? Not so much.

That didn’t stop Eleonora Randolph Sears of Boston. As sugar magnate John D. Spreckels built up the storied polo fields and stables on Coronado Island in the early 1900s, players from all over the United States and the world were drawn to the top notch play—including Miss Sears. The renowned athlete was among the glitterati who spent warm winters taking in tournaments near the Hotel del Coronado, according to research by the Coronado Historical Society.

ERS polo 1910 Coronado- Library of Congress

Sears, a national tennis champion and early advocate for women in sports, visited Coronado annually from 1908 to 1917, and spent each trip advocating for women’s tournaments—an effect that is felt by the ever-growing ranks of female polo players more than 100 years later.

“Miss Sears, who has attracted considerable attention at the Hotel del Coronado during the recent tournament by her mannish riding costume and fearless riding is enthusiastic over the proposition” of women’s polo teams, the Union wrote in April 1909.

And while she was never successful in organizing an all-women’s event in Southern California, she did blaze trails by playing in a coed match in Coronado in March 1915, playing with two women on each side with a man deployed as defensive back. It marked her the first woman to play polo on a men’s team.

Eleanor Sears

Her brash flaunting of gender norms guaranteed her enraptured newspaper coverage: Such as the fact Miss Sears rode astride instead of side saddle—and she did it wearing pants. “Mounted in costume Miss Eleonora Sears appeared on the polo fields of the Coronado Country Club yesterday afternoon and promptly became the center of interest,” the Tribune reported on February 19, 1915. “Dressed in polo boots and breeches, a great polo coat reaching to her boot tops and a large black slouch covering her hair, Miss Sears is with difficulty distinguished from the men polo players.”

And perhaps that was Miss Sears’ point all along, say the ladies who play the sport of kings today.

“Once you step in the arena, we become equal and only your merit and ability matters,” says Julie Empey, an arena player with a rating of one. “There is something beautiful about standing around a group of men that may normally intimidate me hearing them say that they are scared of me in the arena!”
Nicole DeBerg, a San Diego player, says the face of polo in America is changing. “Just like enrollment of women in colleges, the number of women playing polo is steadily increasing,” DeBerg says. “At the San Diego Polo Club for example, membership of women last year exceeded 40 percent.”

Along with the competition and constant challenge of growing as a player, Sue Landis says that she also has relished the opportunity to build vast networks across the globe through polo. Landis, a United Kingdom Women’s Open Polo and the Women’s World Polo Championship winner says that lifestyle element along with the sport is what keeps her coming back.
“As a woman, I love the family focus in polo – it’s great when my daughter can join me at a game, either behind the scenes, or at the après polo celebrations,” says Landis, who lives in San Diego and will play with the Hollywood Girls Polo Team this year.

Empey says the most intense games she has ever played were women’s tournaments. “I think when women go out and play, they are so used to giving it all—just trying to make it in a man’s world,” Empey says. “We are serious and we want to be taken seriously. We know if we work hard, we can be respected as an athlete.”

It’s a future that Miss Sears, who died in 1968 at age 86, would have been delighted to see. “What the suffrage leaders did for the political status of women, the Boston maid has done for women in the realm of sports, rescuing them from stupid age-old fetters of tradition,” a publication noted.

And despite the long way women polo players have come since the days Miss Sears played, current riders say they can’t wait to see what the coming decades hold.

“If the current trend continues, maybe someday the sport of the kings will also be referred to as the sport of the kings and queens,” says DeBerg, “As in my mind, any woman competing out there in a sport as tough and dangerous as polo, royalty or not, deserves the title.”

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2016 Note to the Players

By | 30th Anniversary Season, News, Player's Corner | 2 Comments

2016-San-Diego-Polo-Club-Season-Rancho-Santa-Fe-players-package-Krista-Bonaduidi

Dear Players,

Welcome to the 30th Anniversary Season at the San Diego Polo Club, located in the heart of the equestrian valley of Rancho Santa Fe. This April, we proudly open our doors to new and returning members, local and international teams, and both beginner and professional players.

We have curated a six month polo season with 15 weeks of fun grass polo competition, multiple clinics, arena tournaments, practices and games on the weekends in front of our massive Sunday Polo crowd. We are offering one polo playing membership this season in our 4-Goal League. To start off the season, we are playing 4 Goal tournament play (4 chukkers), which gives players the chance to have fun on a team and participate in club competition. For the second half of our summer season, we will turn up the competition with 4-6 Goal league play (4 chukkers). Players are welcome to bring in a team, a pair or have our polo manager assist with setting up the perfect team. This level of polo provides a safe opportunity for provisional players to learn the ropes and also provides our seasoned members with a little friendly competition. We have a list of professional players endorsed by SDPC who will help encourage growth, development and enjoyment at the San Diego Polo Club.

Additionally, we have secured a sponsor for our Annual Women’s Tournament with visiting teams and you can expect an influx of youth polo development in the arena.In October and early November, members and local players are invited to join us for our favorable Fall League, with weekly competitions and mini-tournaments. Fall League includes professional players on each team designated by the Polo Manager.

Let’s discuss your summer plans so we can plan to move your horses in by Monday, April 4 and you can take advantage of our seasonal barn rates.

If you are thinking of visiting San Diego from out of town this year and want to play polo during your visit, let us put together a visiting player package that includes tournament participation and seats for Sunday Polo. The club has close ties with the best resorts in San Diego such as The Fairmont and The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and can arrange accommodations for you and your family. Our USPA tournaments in September offer a fantastic opportunity to experience great polo, perfect weather, and a chance to partake in the many family (and grown-up) attractions in San Diego.

We are looking forward to hosting once again this season celebrities, visiting players, and visiting teams for special sponsored charity events. I look forward to seeing you on the field and at Opening Day on Sunday, June 5, 2015!

Nour-Dean Anakar, President

Flip through our 2016 Player Package here.