Out & About

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The New York Sun

HAMPTONS POLO

The polo fields in the Hamptons are being invaded this year by women — and not just spectators who come to stomp the divots in their high-heeled sandals. American women are discovering the thrill and challenge of the game itself.

“It’s been terrific for me,” one of the founders of the Southampton Hunt & Polo Club, Laura Newcomb, said. “I never played team sports as a kid. Now I’m part of a team where people are looking to me to make a contribution. Competition is a good way to learn a sport. And the camaraderie is really fun.”

The club’s 10-hour beginner class has 19 students 16 of whom are women.

“I don’t know any particular reason why,” the club president Frank MacNamara, said. Students in the beginner class learn polo riding, how to hit the ball, the rules of the game, and safety.

Jessica Sailer was forthcoming about her initial reason: Her boyfriend, Mark Van Lith, plays. “I wanted to be a part of it, because I realized that otherwise I wouldn’t see him on weekends,” she said. And conveniently, this employee of Ralph Lauren already had the wardrobe. “Now I really enjoy it. It’s nice to be outdoors and the people out here are amazing,” she said.

But she warned, as a beginner, it’s not the best exercise, since matches often are short. “We played for 15 minutes this morning,” she said.

Perhaps the most visible woman on the polo scene this summer is public relations maven Ashley Schiff, already well known in New York for her charitable work for Jazz at Lincoln Center. At the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge, which opened Saturday, Ms. Schiff is competing on the Northwood team with Nick Manifold, Lucas Monteverde and Andres Weisz. She is the only woman playing on the roster of the challenge, which consists of fast-moving, 20-goal games. Another competitive female player is Yvonne Morabito, the captain of the Hennessy Polo team at the Southampton Hunt & Polo Club, who is happy to play in lower-key eight-goal games.

Some wives of competitive polo players have decided to learn the sport after years of watching their husbands — and then sons, and then daughters — play.

Argentine Ines Laprida married into a polo dynasty and her husband and two sons are professional players. So at least she’ll be prepared for the broken fingers.

“I just didn’t want to get left behind,” Diana Roesch said. Her husband played yesterday on the Equuleus team at the Southampton Hunt & Polo Club.

“Our whole family is engaged in the sport now. It’s a really wholesome, outdated way of living,” Ms. Roesch said.

There were plenty of children around both days of polo matches last weekend. At Bridgehampton, the favorite activity of the children was going onto the field to stomp the divots (easier for them, in their sneakers, than it was for the women in heels). At Southampton, families gathered at picnic tables for a traditional Argentine asado, or barbecue.

And children tend to be interested in the horses, too. One boy took out a bunch of carrots to feed to a favorite pony. Frances Lindemann was on the field yesterday to watch her father, Adam Lindemann, win the Hennessy Polo Cup as part of the team Mega, with Matthew Salvner, Tomas Garbarino, and Gabriel Carol.

She doesn’t play polo yet. “She’s a jumper,” Mr. Lindemann said. But there’s plenty of time to learn.

agordon@nysun.com


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