Polo club wraps up its fall season
YORK, NY — The Western New York Polo club concluded its fall semester last Saturday at Riverwind Farm in Piffard with an intersquad game pitting the mixed team (boys and girls) vs. the all girls team.
Both teams played very well, but the mixed team, under Jimmy Perry’s leadership on offense and Roark Taylor’s solid defense aided by help from Kassandra Wohlschlegel and Courtney Stein, proved to be too much fire power for the girls (third year Anna Campbell with first year player Torrey Anderson and second year players Melanie and Molly Hickey).
The results of this game will be submitted to the National Interscholastic Tournament organizers for the purpose of seeding teams in the upcoming national qualifiers later in the spring. Team coaches Rob Donnan and Terry Mehlenbacher are very optimistic about the mixed team’s chances for the spring tournaments as they have just come off a narrow loss to Cornell University’s high school team, and should prove highly competitive against Toronto, the top team in the league.
Some of the high points of the fall semester included setting up and running in the Polo Race at Gail McGuire’s Schoolhouse Races and the Genesee Valley Hunt (GVH) Race Meet.
The Polo Race had not been run at the GVH races in fifty years. This year’s GVH race attracted entries from Hayden Walsh and his father John Walsh – host of the popular TV show America’s Most Wanted.
In the spring, the club will be putting together its first annual yearbook as a fundraiser. Included will be a section on the history of polo in the Genesee Valley and Western New York, featuring a story on Lew Bailey as one of the foundation teachers of the modern polo group in this area.
A trivia question the club would like to have answered is: Who taught Lew to play polo? Was it the Colt Family from Geneseo, or the Knoxes from East Aurora?
The WNY Polo club was started in 2004, inspired by the Polo Training Foundation (PTF), a charitable organization founded in 1967 to teach the game of polo to “young men” by promoting youth clinics, interscholastic and intercollegiate competition, good sportsmanship and good will through friendly competition. (Little did the founders realize that just a few short years later the women’s movement would also strive to bring equality to the polo world.)
Executive Director of the PTF is Danny Scheraga, who coached Rob Donnan when he played as a starter on the Cornell polo team, that finished as Reserve National Champions during his senior year in 1981. Scheraga gives freely of his time and has conducted local clinics for young players.
The local club received a grant from the PTF for $10,000 to purchase equipment, and Donnan and Mehlenbacher provide mounts, so all the riders are required to do is show up twice a week for practice during the semester. You can’t get a better deal than that.
As the WNY Polo youngsters and string of horses have continued to improve, a growing adult beginner program has gotten going on Wednesday evenings starting at 6 p.m.
The spring semester will begin in late January. Any questions can be directed to Terry Mehlenbacher at 585-729-8037 or Rob Donnan 585-746-6897.