The history of the sport of polo can be traced back more than 2,000 years. The modern-day game is often associated with the rich and famous, with members of England’s royal family being avid participants.
However, a more recent version of the competition is attempting to bring the activity back to its roots. The inaugural Magnolia Classic Polocrosse Tournament is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Magnolia Springs Equestrian Center, located at 12500 U.S. 98 in Foley.
Polocrosse, like polo, is played on horseback but is more similar to lacrosse. Players ride one horse for the entire contest, hit a soft rubber ball and use racquets with nets in place of polo’s mallets. There are three players per team, unlike four in polo.
“When we talk to people about polocrosse, they immediately say, ‘yes, I know about polo,’” Michele Morring of the Heart of Dixie Polocrosse Club said. “It is very frustrating. We are not polo.
“The polocrosse ball is made of rubber and bounces. We play with racquets with a net to scoop up the ball off the ground and pass it to a teammate.”
Morring said opponents are able to “tackle” in polocrosse. They do this by swinging their racquet at the ball carrier’s racquet in an attempt to dislodge the ball and recover it for one’s team. The polocrosse field is also a bit smaller than a polo field.
The Heart of Dixie club is hosting the event. Local players are expected from Mobile, Wilmer, Grand Bay, the Eastern Shore, Auburn and southern Mississippi. Teams are based on skill level, not age or gender. This allows entire families to be on a team.
“We are a new club that has only been existence for one-and-a-half years,” Morring said. “We only have approximately 10 active members. For such a young club and with limited membership so far, this tournament is a huge undertaking.
“I have personally been trying to promote the tournament locally. Not necessarily to bring in more competitors, but to make the public aware that such an amazing equestrian sport is available.”
Morring said it is rare to have international players at a local tournament. However, a major competition is scheduled for the following weekend in Ocala, Florida, allowing players from New Zealand the opportunity to participate in Foley.
“Our tournament will have a range in skill from beginners to advance riders,” Morring said. “We will even have one of the 2015 World Cup players competing.” Braxton Hamlin represented the United States last summer and took home a Best Player Award.
Morring said Braxton and his twin brother have played polocrosse with their entire family for years. They are members of the Tennessee Valley Polocrosse Club in Harvest, Alabama.
“I play with my [65-year-old] mom, [12-year-old] daughter and [8-year-old] son,” Morring said. “We all travel across the U.S. If more local equestrians become involved, it will mean more tournaments in our area and less traveling. It will mean the sport will grow and possibly become as popular as polo.”
The Heart of Dixie team meets bimonthly on Sundays at 2 p.m. Practices take place in the Tanner Williams community at BCM Morring Farm. To learn more about the sport, visit www.AmericanPolocrosse.org, or contact Morring at email@example.com.
“The game is not that hard and if you have ever played tennis, softball or football, it will come easy for you,” Morring said. “It is an amazing team sport that teaches sportsmanship and horsemanship skills at the same time. It is a great extracurricular activity for kids to become involved in.”
USA prepares for Tuesday night game
The University of South Alabama (USA) will host Arkansas State for a Tuesday night football game Oct. 13. Because of the unique schedule, special events are planned for the east side parking lot at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
After the “Jag Prowl” team arrival at 4:45 p.m., the “Taste of the Jags” will run from 5 to 6:45 p.m. This will feature free food samples and beverages from 15 local restaurants and vendors. Red Bow Records artist Craig Campbell will perform at 5:30 p.m.
JT Crabtree will host the initial hour of the Coors Light Pregame Tailgate Party. In collaboration with Penelope House and Verizon Wireless, free purple T-shirts then will be given to 2,000 USA students in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month.
The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN2. For ticket information, call 251-461-1USA (1872).
The Jaguars are 3-2 overall. The won their Sun Belt Conference opener last weekend, beating Troy in an away game 24-18. Leading the defensive effort were Kalen Jackson with two interceptions and six tackles, while Blake Dees added nine tackles. Xavier Johnson ran for 91 yards and a score, while Gerald Everett caught two touchdowns.
Lady Rams sit atop soccer standings
The initial edition of the NAIA Women’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) has the University of Mobile in first place. Their previous best rating was No. 5 on Nov. 11, 2014.
The MRPI is used to select at-large teams for the national tournament and for seeding purposes. Factors in the poll include winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage and cumulative ratings in the coaches’ Top 25 poll. The next MRPI ratings will come out Oct. 21.
The Lady Rams are 10-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Their next action is Oct. 8 at Brenau. They return home Oct. 15 to host Auburn-Montgomery.
UMobile baseball players honored
Four plays on the University of Mobile men’s basketball team were named to the 2014-2015 Honors Court. The selections were made by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Cody Scott, Lawrence Pierce, Will Hornsby and Matthew Smith-Cook were recognized. Scott is a senior accounting major, Pierce a junior business administration major, Hornsby a junior communication major and Smith-Cook a senior accounting major.
To be on the Honors Court, a player must be at least a junior and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or better.