UConn Polo Pony and Player, pencil sketch by Helen Scanlon, illustration for Dust and Determination: A History of UConn Polo–coming soon!
Welcome to my first blog post! Glad you stopped by!
First off, I need to thank Laurin and Leslie at Streamlined Development for creating my beautiful new website. They are true professionals and an absolute joy to work with.
I had been thinking of revamping my web presence for quite a while now, and when I finally wrote to Laurin and Leslie and asked them to help me out, their enthusiasm was infectious. And, they work quickly—before I even knew what was happening, I had a new, easy-to-navigate website all decked out in pretty colors. I’m impressed.
As of this writing, my fourth book, Dust and Determination: A History of UConn Polo, is in my editor’s hands, ready for her magic purple pen. It took me about three years to finish the manuscript, so I am more than ready to share this book with all of you. It is my first official venture in real honest-to-goodness sports writing, and what a fun ride! I honestly didn’t expect it to be as enjoyable as it was—but now I am hooked.
Dust and Determination was written for polo fans, history lovers, horse fanatics, and those wanting to know more about polo. I included a section on the history of the game, and a basic primer on how the game is played, polo equipment, polo ponies, and more. No worries if you don’t know the first thing about polo—or horses—I got you covered.
Also included are player memories from former UConn players Tom Goodpseed and Cameron Smart, amongst others. Current coach Emily Galloway also shares her memories of learning polo from the late, great Hal Vita, Sr.—the first coach for UConn polo—the man who started it all. I also feature profiles on some of the beloved polo ponies that played their hearts out for the team. Among them are Moe, Suerte, Mayday, Jed, and Timber.
I also included an interview with artist Larry Wasiele, the creator of the bronze bas-relief polo sculpture that is featured in the polo arena lounge. Larry told me some priceless stories about his career and creative process, and I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout our phone conversation. Some of my beta-readers said his interview was one of their favorite parts of the book. What can I say—Larry is not only a talented artist, but he’s also funny as hell. His dry wit can blow right by you if you aren’t paying attention… Luckily for me, I paid attention—and took notes!
Dr. James Dinger wrote the foreword. ‘Nuff said. Jim Dinger lives and breathes UConn polo, and during his tenure as polo coach, he recruited, trained and inspired many of UConn’s top players. He was a natural choice for the foreword.
So, why is UConn polo’s history so noteworthy? Why did I write a whole flippin’ book on it? Well, how about this: UConn started out in 1969 as the underdog team from a sleepy Connecticut cowtown, and became national champions—the best intercollegiate team in the nation—in the blink of an eye, all without their own string of ponies or a proper practice space on campus. How did they do it? Dedication. Practice. Skill. A willingness to do whatever it took to get on the back of a horse and get that valuable saddle time. Teamwork. Communication. Plain ol’ hard work. Impressed? You bet you are. You want to know more about how they did it? You bet you do!
As I wrote about the amazing players and ponies of UConn polo, I put myself in the saddle, right in the heat of the game. As an equestrian myself, I want to impart the excitement, speed, and intensity of being on the back of a thousand-pound animal, galloping furiously for the goal. I want you to hear the hooves tearing up the earth, smell the sweat glistening on your pony’s neck, and feel the grit and dust on your face. There is a strong and palpable element of danger, but you ride through the gnawing twist in your guts; you are compelled to charge on and defeat your opponents. With the clamor of the fans, you claim victory with your teammates at your side. You and your pony are partners, a singular force; you pat his neck and he nods his head and snorts, shaking foam from his lips—he knows.
Welcome to polo.
Watch this space for updates and a publication announcement—and thank you for being here.