I want to congratulate the Newport’s Westchester Polo Club, Hamilton’s, Myopia Polo Club, and Dechra Veterinary tournament sponsor for hosting a momentous event as it relates to the history of women’s polo in the United States.
I was proud to participate in the inaugural Women’s East Coast Open hosted by the oldest polo clubs in our nation. The tournament symbolized many things, among them the recognition of women’s polo as an equally competitive form of polo deserving of its own high goal tournament similar to the mixed East Coast Open founded in 1978. The hosting of the Women’s East Coast Open was inspired by the young Minnie Keating, who on her own, symbolizes the future of women’s polo. She introduced the idea to her loving parents, Dan and Agnes Keating. With their help, everyone at the two New England polo clubs, mentors like Leslie-Ann Masterson Fong Yee, the USPA, the WCT, and Dechra, her dream came true.
It also symbolized world unity, as the tournament attracted women from around the world including France, Kenya, and Jamaica. It symbolized a vigorous beginning to building more women’s tournament opportunities for the health of a sport we wish to grow and succeed at all levels.
Many benefits arose from organizing such a significant event as well. During the course of several months preparing for the tournament week, Amy Garrison and the Keatings of Newport graciously gave their time to build a remarkable tournament check list published on our WIPN resources page, as a tool for hosting a women¹s tournament with a detailed timeline. It is an invaluable reference guide I recommend others examine.
The tournament was sanctioned by the USPA, and was organized with the help of the PUMP / 8 program available to USPA recognized clubs to help reduce umpire costs to lower entry fees for women players, some of which just graduated from colleges like Harvard and Cornell, who have limited funds, but wish to play. The tournament also requested it be recognized as a Women’s Championship Tournament Sunny Hale Legacy Qualifier through JoAnne Smicklas, to allow all the women players participating in the tournament, the opportunity to play in the Grand Champions WCT Finals held annually in early April, Wellington, Florida.
Most importantly, it honored great women of our past like our much beloved and deeply missed polo phemon, Sunny Hale, founder of the WCT, who trail-blazed a path for all women polo players to enjoy more playing opportunities through her commitment to women’s polo globally. It also honored Anne Hutchinson, the most famous English woman in colonial American history, as a courageous exponent of civil liberties and religious toleration. I was honored to raise the beautifully replicated Paul Revere designed trophy, a true symbol of New England, with my team mates, for all women who have taken action, and taken risks to make way for a brighter future.