Gay polo finds a community shouting back, welcoming and accepting
He was riding his pony at full gallop. The clock ticked away, nearing the end of the first chukker. Tom Landry was focused and concentrated on his training, on the moment. He swung his mallet into a neck shot, and scored a goal.
It’s not really a pony, but a full-grown horse. In the game of polo, however, they’re called ponies, for alliterative purposes. Full gallop means riding at about 30 miles per hour. Each game is divided into four chukkers, like innings. Each one lasts seven-and-a-half minutes. Like in other sports, the clock stops during injuries and penalties, among other things.
Landry’s mallet is a bamboo shaft, topped with hardwood. Swinging it near-side is swinging to the left of the pony. Swinging the mallet off-side is swinging to the right of the pony. Making a neck shot, like Landry did, is swinging it in the middle, underneath the pony’s neck. It usually launches the hard, plastic polo ball in a 90-degree angle.
That was last year, when Landry was named Most Valuable Player during the 2011 International Gay Polo Tournament. Put on by the Gay Polo League (GPL), the event is returning for its third annual installment in Wellington on Saturday, April 14. It’ll all take place at the Grand Champions Polo Club.
This year will be Landry’s second time competing in GPL’s international tournament.
“We’re playing in Wellington, the birthplace of polo in the U.S. It’s exciting to play there,” said Landry, who’s co-directing the endeavor. “It’s a huge opportunity, in the polo world, to play with pros on this caliber. Most pros have never even been to Wellington.”
And the pros are exactly the determinant for this year’s teams. Four teams will be led by four professional players: Nic Roldan, Jason Crowder, Juan Bollini and Joey Casey. Landry will be playing under Jason Crowder, with whom he’s played for several years. He hopes, like every player SFGN talked to, that his team wins.
“I love seeing new blood come into the sport,” he said about Mark Bennet,
This article originally appeared on: http://www.southfloridagaynews.com/life-and-style/sports/5980-marco.html