Post Date: Friday, August 24, 2018
|Name: Dawn Jones
From San Antonio, Texas
Handicap: 1 goal mixed, 6 goals women’s
Playing for: Women’s International Polo Network
Poll Club affiliation: San Saba Polo Club
When did you start playing polo?
I started learning to ride horses and play polo at the age of 32.
What do you love most about the sport?
I love the polo community. I love that several generations of a family can play the sport together. My admiration of the polo community motivated me to learn to ride horses and play the game so my husband and I could share the sport together, and with friends like the Echezarreta family.
What is the most challenging aspect of polo?
The most challenging aspect of polo for me is finding horses I can ride at any level of the sport that I can stop and turn quickly with ease, allowing me to focus on the game. Finding a great polo horse is rare, and finding a great polo horse for a female player is like finding a unicorn. Thanks to my husband Tommy, our friend and polo manager Luis Echezarreta, and our friend and groom, Luis Cartagena, I am privileged to have several mythical horses.
Tell us about your horses (or favorite horse).
My favorite polo pony is my mare Minnie from Argentina. She’s the perfect polo pony with excellent confirmation for speed. She has very handy maneuvering capable of reaching top speeds in seconds with Formula One braking and plenty of personality to match. She’s so tiny, I use a 50” mallet with her. Mythical!
Tell us about the Women’s International Polo Network.
The first of its kind, the Women's International Polo Network (WIPN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit independent international network of women polo players. I’m working with Erica Gandomcar Sachs, Pamela Flanagan, Courtney Asdourian, Cecilia Cochran, Kim DeLashmit, Amanda Cordsen Iseminger, and Taylor Scuilfo. Our purpose is to enhance women's polo around the world by building an online community via a sophisticated Website that includes detailed player profiles and a comprehensive global calendar of women's tournaments. The Website will help facilitate play and build women’s and mixed teams, increase global exposure for women players, build a healthy women’s polo community, create opportunities for sponsorship and philanthropic outreach. We intend to launch the Website by this December 2018. More details can be found on our landing page, wipnpolo.com where contributors can support us in small or large contributions. It’s a grassroots campaign where supporters around the globe can take part.
Why did you start the WIPN?
The WIPN was inspired by the tireless work of our late friend, Sunny Hale, and inspired by obvious necessities that were unavailable to women players globally such as a world tournament calendar. Sunny paved the way for women’s polo in the US, and encouraged the networking of women polo players worldwide. Her Women’s Championship Tournament offered opportunities to girls, and women to play polo at a variety of levels from beginner to the most competitive. After her unfortunate passing nearly two years ago, several of her friends and admirers chose to take her model to another level through a Website designed to be far more sophisticated than the most popular social media sites available.
How does your experience playing polo influence the project?
The privilege to play polo over the course of several years in several countries in mixed polo and women-specific polo has provided me a unique perspective where I can contribute to the creation of a useful method of uniting women’s polo and the sport in general. Those experiences combined with those of my colleagues have offered insights into what methods of organizing the sport has worked and what has not. I believe the WIPN will give women polo players a welcoming place to connect, organize, educate and mentor in a professional way. I also believe the creation of the WIPN will generate more interest in the sport from the general public, and encourage more memberships in associations like the United States Polo Association, the Argentine Association of Polo, and The Hurlingham Polo Association along with others around the globe. Finally, my most recent experience has been a great pleasure to play on team Women’s International Polo Network here in the Santa Barbara 8 goal Rincon league with Cory Williams, Juan Monteverde, and Luis Echezarreta. Entering team WIPN has brought much-appreciated attention to our concept. Many thanks to Cory for her support. She is a very thoughtful teammate, an excellent rider, who is eager to help the team compete at its best. I was proud to see two women compete in the 8 goal with two men who also support our program on team WIPN.
How can one get involved in the project?
I encourage anyone interested in getting involved with the project visit the WIPN landing page at wipnpolo.com where one can e-mail us directly with questions or requests to contribute their time. Several women around the world have already eagerly offered to volunteer their time and expertise to assist the WIPN.
What is your advice for young women pursuing the sport of polo?
I recommend young women interested in pursuing beginner polo find a polo club near their community, and explore the possibilities of learning to ride and play. Finding a polo club that offers polo lessons like the Santa Barbara Polo Club would be an ideal scenario for a safe and nurturing learning environment, that also includes several levels of club polo one can aspire to play, or at least enjoy watching. I encourage young women who are already playing the game strive to build women’s polo leagues to better develop their riding and playing skills. From the very start of a new league, I recommend the league be clearly defined as either a place that concentrates on easy going game finesse, or physically intense competition while still maintaining safety, friendships and camaraderie. Some of the higher goal women players like to push their abilities in league games to prepare for Open tournaments, but it’s also possible to enjoy speedy league games with minimal contact to help cultivate beginner players too.
Photo: Women’s International Polo Network team
Luis Echezarreta, Juan Monteverde, Dawn Jones, Cory Williams
Photo by Dave Lominska