USPA Women’s Challenge in Hawaii
Today we have a guest blogger telling us of her experience as captain in an annual USPA Women’s Challenge located on the largest Hawaiian Island, better known as the Big Island. Tyneski Quintel is a local Hapa girl (meaning mixed) of Hawaiian/Chinese/French decent and was born and raised on the Big Island, but currently resides on the most populated island of Oahu. She is a member of Hawaii Polo Club on the famous North Shore, better known for surfing. She has only been submerged in polo for the last eight years as she recently discovered her passion for riding and playing polo at the age of twenty from an Argentinian 3 goaler Enrique Diaz. Ty is a strong supporter of women’s tournaments in the islands and travels interisland to play polo at every chance she gets. This year she brought over three players from her club to participate in the USPA Women’s Challenge at the Mauna Kea Polo Club along with a truck, trailer and horses.
The Hawaiian Island Archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is breathtakingly unusual and unique as it is the most isolated landmass in the world. Hawaii Island is better known as the Big Island and has 11 out of 13 of the world’s climatic zones. It is also home to Mauna Kea the world’s tallest mountain (from below sea level) a 13,800-foot high dormant volcano with seasonal snow caps.
Nestled on the western slopes of Mauna Kea at an elevation of 4,500 feet is the Mauna Kea Polo Club. With miles of rolling green hills of pasture land, the deep blue ocean settled on the horizon below and through a heavy private gate you will find the polo field on the cloud line of Waikii Ranch. The weather can change dramatically in as little as an hour. From sunny gorgeous blue skies to rolling thick clouds of white fog and the temperature plunging below the forties, Waikii Ranch will keep you on your toes. The nearest town Waimea is 20 minutes away and filled with the rich Paniolo or Hawaiian cowboy history which serves as the backbone of the clubs history.
The Mauna Kea Polo Club attracts all walks of life to play polo on Sundays. The horses switch disciplines like shoes and they come from all over the island. From the usual western fanatics with western boots, spurs, saddles and bridles to the jumping ladies in breaches, all the equestrians on the island get a taste of polo while the short three-month season is around. Every Sunday from October through December the polo field is lined with trucks, trailers and horses from as far as one and a half hours drive from both sides of the island, Hilo or Kona. The people are knowledgeable horse people and range from the local Hawaiians to those from all of the world that now call Hawaii Island home. With the warm spirit of Aloha, open arms and bright smiles the people of the club gladly welcome outsiders that come to advance their knowledge of polo.
Since 2014, I’ve been lucky enough as a Big Island girl that currently resides on Oahu to be a part of returning “home” and participating yearly in their Women’s Challenge. This year was different as I helped organize the travel of three other talented young ladies from Oahu to play in the USPA women’s challenge. We shipped interisland, horses with the truck and trailer for the weekend. Alyssa Barlow, Leilani Kinimaka and Shelby Rivera had never played or seen the polo field on the Big Island, so none of the girls knew what to expect.
We flew in on Friday the 17th and picked up our horses from the doc. An overnight stay in the trailer and on the barge the horses arrived safely. After an hour-long drive up the hill, we reached Waikii ranch, our new home for the weekend. Our gracious host Lori Borgin a Waikii homeowner, lifetime barrel racer and polo player took us into her home like family. Immediately we went to work and took the horses we were borrowing on a set as we raced the setting sun and the creeping chill as it was turning in to be time to settle in for the night. Then on Saturday with we all participated in a clinic by Mark Becker a certified USPA umpire from Oahu.
The theme for November 19th, Polo Sunday was “Super heroes” and “pretty in pink” in support of Hope Lodge and support of the American Cancer Society. With over 30 members there were four games before the main game. It all started early at 11:00 am with the kids walk and trot game. Some kids even wore capes!! Then came the round robin for the club game and right before it looked like the weather was going to turn for the worst, before the fog rolled in the women’s tournament was about to be underway at 2:00pm.
Ponoholo Ranch vs Pau Restaurant
The sponsors for teams had their own tents alongside the clubhouse and even had a brother sister rivalry themselves!
We decided to split myself from the other Oahu girls so we could have an even 3 goal team against a 3 goal team. I was the captain of the Pau team with Stephanie Lau, Chelsea Rosario and Darrian Hannum. Alyssa Barlow was captain on Ponoholo Ranch with Erin Matsui and the other two Oahu girls Leilani Kinimaka and Shelby Rivera. The first chukker our team was fouled in the first minute with a penalty 4 awarded and I shanked the ball to the right! Then another foul against our team and a penalty 3 given and I made the goal this time. A few hard ride-offs and nice goal by Erin Matsui, then another missed penalty shot for my team and then the chukker was over. The second chukker had the three Oahu girls together mounted stronger and then in a matter of 2 minutes 3 goals scored (by each member of the team) leaving the half time at 4-1. In the third chukker the Pau girls held back the Ponoholo Ranch girls as we played a little ping pong action with backshots narrowly missing the goal mouth. Then in the third chukker as we battled idefencese of our goal with some more hard riding off plays and hooks, Laurie Borgin came through with a solid goal for her team. Finally in the fourth chukker our team played hard and fast taking the ball out and charging full speed to try to recover the score, but unfortunately, we fouled and Allyssa once again made a beautiful penalty shot and the game was left at 6-1!!
Fun, fast and exciting the game ended all too short as we all felt way more warmed up to the higher elevation at the end. We all gave each other big hugs and felt happy to have made the effort to bring horses and stay for the weekend. The fog rolled in as if in perfect timing after we finished our game. The most unique part of this club is the weather. I’ve played here a number of times where the fog rolls in so heavy that the crowd can’t see the play and the players can barely see the ball!!
All the girls had a fabulous time and they even fell in love with the club. We all won prizes from our team sponsors. Allyssa walked away with MVP and best playing pony “Ice Tea” with a nice pair of Husk High Impact Polo boots by the local tack supply business Hale O Polo. It was fun to be so appreciated by the club and welcomed with such warm open arms. A definite must do again for us girls and a tradition I will continue to uphold for as long as I’m playing polo!!!
Thank you, Ty for sharing your amazing experience!