Four years ago, two women enrolled at TCU with the intention of bringing something new beyond two students.
Polo was their hobby, their sport a means of enjoyment and they did not plan on giving it up.
Molly Musselman, a communication studies major, and KC Beal, an entrepreneurial management major, started the polo club at TCU in 2004.
The two played polo throughout high school for interscholastic teams, competing locally. They chose TCU in part because of its close proximityto the No. 1 polo facility in Texas, the facility currently used by the team.
The start of their polo journey at TCU had a much different look than this past season. The all female organization had little experience beyond its founders and only six horses to its name.
With no previous club pioneering experience, Beal and Musselman said they based their club on the knowledge and understanding of other clubs. Modeling their own on from what they saw from others.
Just four years later, the team has continued to expanded and grown into a nationally competitive organization.
Those six horses it started with grew to 18. The group of women attempting to start something new, expanded to groups of men and women, establishing a name for themselves.
While the club has featured as many as 12 members, this year’s team has a total of eight.
Not only did the club grow, but also got better, consistently better than its local competition.
Beal and Musselman’s club joined the Central Region of polo competition.
This conference is no slouch either, including the University of Texas, Oklahoma State, Colorado State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and New Mexico State universities.
“Most other colleges have like 60 in their club, like A&M and Tech,” Musselman said.
The past two years, TCU has defeated each team in its region, qualifying to compete in the Intercollegiate Polo Nationals.
The little team Beal and Musselman started, suddenly became a national competitor.
This past season, the team traveled to Kentucky where the team lost to the University of Connecticut, which won the championship for its fourth consecutive year.
Beal and Musselman’s efforts have not only been rewarded through team success, but on the individual level as well.
Beal was named to the Intercollegiate Polo All Star team for the second year in a row, Musselman was named to Regional team, and Cha Cha, one of the team’s horses, was awarded best playing horse.
Beal said this is the biggest honor a team can receive because everyone rides each other’s horses and votes on the winner, and to have the best horse is a huge honor.
Game of Polo
“You’ve got a horse underneath you and you’re using all of that power to bump someone next to you,” Beal said.
The game of polo is an extremely physical one, Musselman and Beal said.
While technically against the rules, Beal said it’s common for players to elbow, kick and slam their horses into each other’s legs.
“I can’t wear skirts during the season,” Musselman said.
Beal and Musselman have not been alone in their club formation, relying on donations to fuel expensive needs that come with the sport
Beal said donations go a long way in keeping the
e program alive. Each of the club’s 18 horses was donated to the club and the stables are competing grounds are donation based as well.
Musselman said the horses are mostly South American and have been donated because they were either runaways or deemed too slow or reckless for outdoor riding. But put them inside for a polo game and they turn into Ferrari’s, Beal said.
“Polo is usually an outdoor sport and these horses usually aren’t very good outside and they don’t sell, so they’re donated to colleges,” Beal said. “They have problems, but they go in the arena and it’s like a completely different horse.”
Future of polo
With the graduation of founders Beal and Musselman, Grace Lee, a junior studio art major, will be stepping up as the head of the women’s team and club.
Lee received the sportsmanship award, which Beal and Musselman said she is completely deserving of.
Lee said losing the team’s founders and two of its best riders will be tough, but she said she already knows of some polo players interested in attending TCU.
Lee, of With losses to graduation, Lee is one of three riders on the team who played this past season.
“They taught me well,” said Lee about taking over for Beal and Musselman. “Dividing the work will make it really easy. The men’s team and club members will divide the responsibilities equally and I think we’ll get it done.”