AUSTIN — Texas Arena League (TAL) moved to the Austin area for the second leg of TAL Classic Division. Dripping Springs Ranch Park (DSRP), located in the town of Dripping Springs just Southwest of Austin, is a municipal arena that hosts events from rodeos to conventions. With corrugated panels sponsored by various businesses and teams, build-out goals with Royal B Threads sponsored banners, and support from United States Polo Association (USPA), TAL was able to create a polo arena at a multi-million-dollar facility that had never hosted polo previously.
TAL Committee member and Austin resident Brady Williams commented, “TAL has been trying to find a non-traditional facility to use for polo and has looked at several different venues. We wanted to find a place that would be out of the elements, have good footing and be able to accommodate all of the players and horses that TAL attracts. The DS Ranch Park facility immediately appeared to satisfy many of the TAL needs in a venue. The arena only needed adjustments for polo on three sides because one side was already a flat concrete wall. All the TAL team had to do was keep the ball in play and build goals. The standard arena size at the Dripping Springs facility is very close to a full-size polo arena and did not need adjustment. The facility was in good shape and most of the participants seemed to be pleased. The DSRP team was good work with and very accommodating to try to make the facility function for the polo needs of TAL.”
Lily Sellers of DSRP commented on the event, “DSRP was excited to host our first arena polo event with Texas Arena League on February 10th – 12th, 2023. This discipline was new to our facility, and it served as a great learning experience for all our staff on the footing and arena needs for the sport, as well as the basic outline of how the games run. We really enjoyed working with TAL and all their participants and are hoping to have more arena polo events in our future!”
Friday games included play in the USPA National Arena Delegates Cup, which began at Brookshire Polo Club, with Bar-Spur, Chandler Ranch and Dallas Polo Club all having wins added to their records.
The C Flight continued the Friday night polo with 8 teams competing in the beginner league including Major General Johnny Richardson, commander of the 1st cavalry division at Fort Hood, who played his first polo tournament after attending a clinic in January, “It was a tremendous experience attending the Texas Military Polo Clinic taught by Tom Goodspeed. What an incredible experience to learn from the best. Then the welcoming and gracious members of the Texas Arena League got me into a C Flight match within two weeks. I’m hooked!”
Saturday saw continued play in the USPA Arena General Patton Cup. Sponsored by Patton Legacy Sports, this military tournament (with each team having a military connection through either personal service or a family member) saw wins for Legends, Evergreen Equine and Horsegate who will continue in the tournament along with wildcard Texas Sun & Shade. The USPA Sportsmanship Cup began competition at DSRP with Bar-Spur, Frank’s Friendly Firearms and Three Amigos advancing in the tournament with wins in their game. Patton Legacy Sports will join as the wildcard at the next TAL event at Legends Polo Club.
Tanner Kneese has been playing in both the 0-3 and 3-6 goal and took home Galvin Agency MVP honors at DSRP, “It’s been another great year of TAL with more players and increasing level of play. Playing 0-3 with fellow Texas Tech Polo alumni Mark and Amanda Osburn has been a lot of fun. Also 3-6 with Sami Leach, Sydney Morris and Don English has been a blast. I’m very honored to have won sportsmanship the first weekend of TAL in 0-3 and 3-6. Winning Galvin Agency MVP in Dripping Springs in 3-6 was incredible given the level of play. It’s been great seeing all the Intercollegiate Polo alumni and I very much look forward to next year!”
On Sunday, play continued in the USPA General Puller Tournament – another military tournament – Horsegate, Eagle’s Landing, and Herk’s Store & Grill advanced with wins while Dallas Polo Club received the wildcard for the tournament. The USPA Sherman Memorial got underway at DSRP with victories for Elite Motion & Performance, Clear Creek, Legends who will advance along with wildcard Shweiki Media to the next TAL event at Legends Polo Club.
“This year TAL brought us to Dripping Springs, which was an incredible facility and was so close I was able to bring my whole family to play, even my young nieces and nephews who played C Flight,” said TAL player Nick Stefanakis who is competing with his sons and older nephew, Anson Moore in TAL and won Catena USA Sportsmanship award at DSRP. “Robin (Sanchez) and the Texas Arena League continue to knock it out the park after each of these tournaments. We are so excited about the continued growth of this sport.”
Olivia Reynolds, who is playing in both the 6-9 with Quiet Creek and with TAMU women in the 3-6 and DI National Intercollegiate Tournament in April, was awarded two Nutrena Best Playing Pony prizes at DSRP, “I am super proud of Balenciaga and Tito for winning BPP in both the 3-6 Goal and 6-9 Goal flights. Balenciaga’s athleticism and sweet personality make her such a pleasure on and off the field. Tito is definitely my handiest pony, and his dapples makes him absolutely adorable. He was one of my first polo ponies and has a special place in my heart. I love both of these ponies so much and am so honored for this award and their brand new Nutrena bell boots!”
Brady Williams added, “By using a venue that was not traditionally setup for polo, it allows it allows TAL to expand to areas and spectators that are not familiar with polo.”
–Texas Arena League