In its fourth year of existence, the TCU Polo Club is losing its two founders, but its future seems to be on the rise as it continues to grow and evolve.
Molly Musselman, a communication studies major, and KC Beal, an entrepreneurial management major, started the polo club at TCU in 2004 as freshmen. The club received approval in fall 2004 and play began in spring 2005.
The two had played polo throughout high school for interscholastic teams and chose TCU in part because the No. 1 polo facility in Texas is close to the campus and used by the team.
The start of their polo journey at TCU had a much different look than this past season. Beal and Musselman had six horses and the club was composed of females only.
With no previous club pioneering experience, Beal and Musselman said they based their club on the knowledge and understanding of other clubs.
Despite the gathered knowledge regarding the organization of clubs, the team has continued to expanded and grown into a nationally competitive organization.
The club went from having six horses to 18 and expanded to include both a male and female team. 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 it got better. The women’s team has competed in the Intercollegiate Polo Nationals the past two years.
The team traveled to Kentucky where it was defeated by the University of Connecticut, which has won the championship for the fourth consecutive year.
The team’s transformation from fledgling club to national competitors is also evident in the team’s individual performances. 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 probably 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.
The team participates in the Central Region, which also includes the University of Texas, Oklahoma State, Colorado State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and New Mexico State universities.
TCU had to defeat each team in order to compete in the national tournament.
“Most other colleges have like 60 in their club, like A&M and Tech,” Musselman said.
In order to facilitate and run the polo teams, Beal and Musselman said donations go a long way in keeping the 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.
Grace 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.
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.”
This club goes above and beyond any perceived normal obligations. Members go before class each day at 6:40 a.m. to feed and tend to the horses. They take the horses out in sets every day for their exercise.
Musselman and Beal agreed that over the past four years, polo has been more than a club – it has been life.
“We have club days on Wednesdays, for anyone who wants to come out and try can,” Musselman said. “Someone who has never even been on a horse we taught how to ride.”
Beal, Musselman and Lee offer lessons to any interested riders or polo players. They said they have taught several club members the ropes and offer their services to even the most unexperienced riders.