Women’s polo on track after championship



In April, the UK women’s club polo team stood in triumph after defeating Texas A & M to claim its first national title. Now, six months later, it’s reaping the benefits.

“Within the polo community, we have definitely gotten the university’s name out there,” team captain and secondary English education junior Courtney Asdourian said. “Before, it wasn’t even really known that UK had a team. Now, we’ve been in multiple polo magazines and we get recruits calling all the time wanting to come look at Kentucky.”

But the club noticed a change even more relevant. The polo team has already inked four transfers who are playing this year and two additional international students, as well, club president and family studies senior Cary Campbell said. Youthfulness is an underlying factor that the team hopes will continue to breed success.

“The added interest is only going to help us improve,” Campbell said.

UK captured the championship title at the United States Polo Association National Intercollegiate Championships with a 15-14 victory over the Aggies after knocking off California Polytechnic State University 20-6 and top-seeded Cornell University 18-12. Junior Meghan Shader and sophomore Posey Obrecht both made key plays in the championship match.

Lexington Polo Club manager Jorge Vasquez serves as the team head coach and founder of the club. He believes the win will encourage individuals of all skill levels interested in participating to join the club, a message he constantly conveys.

“I knew we were going to win one eventually,” Vasquez said. “It’s still pretty incredible. This is one of the most memorable wins ever for me, even more so than many of my wins and things from playing around the world.

“We will still go out everyday and work on becoming a better player. We try to improve individually by focusing on the fundamentals of our sport. At the end of the day, we try to be better than we were the day before. That has always been our goal.”

Problems have arisen with the booming coverage, though. Because the club is only five years old, the team was not expected to have such success as quickly as it has.

“We never thought it would happen so fast. Only four years and we’re national champions,” Campbell said. “We are a real program now — we have a great coach, we have 18 horses and about 20 members. It has just grown exponentially. At this point, it’s more about finding the means to expand with as popular as the club is getting.”

New and old supporters are taking notice of the team’s success by making calls to the team and by sending e-mails and letters. The team has also seen a tremendous increase in monetary donations, which allows the club to afford newer and better-quality equipment, Vasquez said.

“UK is a blue-collar school, and here we are, only four years into our program, taking down established Ivy League programs like Cornell, who have been around for years,” Vasquez said. “We did it all on a shoestring.”

With the bull’s-eye on their backs, the Cats now look ahead to the young season in front of them.

“We know everyone is going to be coming 10 times harder for us,” Asdourian said. “As much as we’d like to think we’re sitting pretty, we can’t do that. All eyes are on us now that we have won — we just have to work. We understand the only way to go when you’re on top is down.”