UK women’s polo thrives without funding

By Nancy Katz

Many people know that Kentucky has a very thriving horse industry. However, some do not realize that the University of Kentucky has one of the best and most accomplished women’s polo teams in the nation, even though they aren’t fully funded by the athletic administration.

There is an immense amount of effort put forth by both players and staff in order to ensure that the polo program at UK continues to stay strong.

This year, the women’s polo team made it all the way to the regional finals where they ultimately lost. However, they have always been a very strong athletic club and will continue to be strong.

The women’s polo team is a club team, a fact that does not deter potential members from joining the team. “the fact that it is a club team ensures that people are very dedicated to the sport.” former UK polo player Beth LeBow said. Because there are no scholarships available, people are on the team solely because they truly love the sport.” LeBow also states that in 2010, the team won the national championship.

Playing polo at in a city that has an extensive history with horses also presents many advantages for the players. If anyone ever has questions, there are many people who are willing and able to answer the question.

Current UK polo player Annie Hickey has been playing polo for most of her life. Hickey said that most of the young women on the team, “already know how to play, but every year there are four or five people who join just to learn how to ride horses and play.”

Polo is a very expensive sport. Since it is not funded by the athletic administration the team relies on donations. “The majority of the team’s equipment, like saddles and helmets, are donated by polo clubs and other players around Kentucky,” Hickey said.

Players have to pay their own dues, which averages roughly $700 a semester. However, compared to other schools, this is relatively low. Those dues are mainly used to pay for horses. Since the entire team does not travel to games, the players that travel typically cover the majority of their own expenses.

The women’s polo team has also recently upgraded barns. This provides many advantages and will ultimately help further strengthen the program.