SEU welcomes new polo club, open to new and experienced members

St. Edward’s newest sports club has a unique draw: members get to ride horses for several hours a week.

The SEU Polo Club was started last December by junior and club president, Sebastian Acosta. He is hoping to have a lasting impact on club sports at the university by fostering a community and building a competitive team.

“I’d love for us all to become incredible riders and polo players and to beat almost every team we play against,” sophomore Jordan Joplin said.

Polo, the “sport of kings”, is a team sport involving players on horseback who work together to hit a small rubber ball with a long, wooden mallet through the opposing team’s gate.

Though this may seem challenging, freshman Melissa Lopez stressed that students don’t need to have prior experience playing the sport or even riding horses in order to join.

“I’ve never ridden on a horse,” Lopez said. “Even though we don’t necessarily have the same background, we all can bond over the horses.”

Currently, the club has six members including Acosta and junior Victor Ribeiro, all with varying degrees of experience riding horses. Some, like Lopez and Ribeiro, had never ridden a horse before, while others, like Joplin, have been riding horses their whole lives. “My mother was a horseback riding instructor, so I’ve been on a horse since before I could walk,” Joplin said.

The team practices at Two Wishes Ranch, located about 30 minutes south of the university in Lockhart. The team’s coach, Ariel Rodriguez, is a former professional polo player from Argentina. Rodriguez expressed his excitement about coaching the team and seeing the players develop.

“I’m really enthusiastic about it,” Rodriguez said. “I like a challenge, and when the students do something better, it’s such a good feeling.”

The club members are working to continuously develop their horsemanship abilities before moving onto other skills involving the mallet and team tactics.

“Our horses are our most valuable players,” Acosta.said. “I want them to learn that the horse is the first thing you have to take care of, and then comes you, and then the ball.”

Acosta  has experience playing polo. Before creating the SEU Polo Club, Acosta practiced with the polo team at the University of Texas. After moving here from El Paso, Acosta sought a way to play the sport competitively.

“When I moved to Austin, I wanted to continue playing polo,” Acosta said. “I decided to start a new club at my university. I think that a lot of people love horses, and I saw a lot of people wanting to start something like I did. But maybe they didn’t know the right people to get in contact with, or they didn’t have the energy to put into it.”

The club is eagerly accepting any students who wish to join. The fee is $300 per month, which goes towards paying the costs associated with maintaining horses. The club practices three times a week at the ranch.

To assuage the fears some may have about the dangerous nature of the sport, Ribeiro mentioned that he is a paramedic, Acosta is an EMT and Joplin is an emergency first responder. Additionally, they always wear helmets.