Tag Archives: Meet the Players

Meet Colton Bancroft.

Meet Colton Bancroft.

SDPC: Colton, you probably get asked this a lot but, why polo?

Bancroft: I love polo because there is no other sport like it. I started playing when I was 10 and haven’t stopped since. I love it.

SDPC: Do you have any rituals you perform before a match?

Bancroft: Not really, I always try to stay relaxed before a big game.

SDPC: How do you feel about playing in front of such a large crowd on Polo Sundays?

Bancroft: I love having the crowd there, however, when I am playing I do my best to just ignore them.

SDPC: Tell us about your horses! Any funny memories or stories come to mind?

Bancroft: I love every one of my horses and i am so grateful to be able to play them.

SDPC: When you aren’t on the field, what other hobbies or sports interest you?

Bancroft: I play lacrosse for my high school, but polo is much more serious for me.

SDPC: You and Jesse Bray are good friends, how long have you two been playing polo together and how did you first meet?

Bancroft: Haha, I met Jesse on the field when I was 12 and we have been playing ever since. He and his dad, Graham Bray, have taught me everything I know.

SDPC:  Were you born and raised in San Diego? If so, what is your favorite way to spend a “day off” here?

Bancroft: I was born in Utah, but I was raised in San Diego.  I love to go to the beach or hang out with friends.

SDPC: Do you have any long-term aspirations for your polo career? If so, tell us about them!

Bancroft: I would love to eventually go pro and get paid to do what I love.

SDPC: With this year’s summer polo season winding down and school starting back up, what gets you most excited looking forward to the 2013 polo season and your upcoming school year?

Bancroft: I can’t wait for next season. In the mean time, I will focus on my grades and practice polo as much as I can so that I am ready for next season.

SDPC: What is one of the most important lessons you have learned either from playing polo or your fellow players?

The most important lesson I have leaned from polo is to be grateful for everything I have and never take any of it for granted. I am extremely lucky to be able to do what i do.

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Meet Gaston Von Wernich.

A native of Argentina, Gaston Von Wernich grew up on a farm about 3 hours west of Buenos Aires. Gaston came from a home of polo players, and he learned to play from his uncle–a skilled, 10-goal player who lived close by.  He has been playing in San Diego for a handful of years with Chris Maloney.

To prepare for competition, Gaston employs a few simple tactics: he makes sure to ride early in the morning and, before any match, he makes sure to focus his mind entirely upon the game.

He enjoys being with his family and drinking maté with his friends in the barn.  Thus far, the highlight of his polo career was winning the Spreckels Cup in 2007 with his brother and Chris Maloney.

Gaston’s long term polo goals are to continue to compete professionally and, one day, to play alongside his sons.

Meet Jesse Bray.

We heard Jesse picked up four new “green ponies,” so we met him at his barn to admire the new animals.

Jesse: “What’s your favorite beach?”
SD Polo: Flamenco Beach in Puerto Rico!  Why?
Jesse:  I am naming my horses after beaches, at least these two year olds.  The four year old needs to be named after a beer.

SD Polo: Stella? Why do you name your horses in waves?
Jesse:  Well, I won’t play these two year olds for another 4 years.  They’ll all be named after beaches then.

SD Polo:  Four years is a long time!  How do you prepare them to play polo?
Jesse:  You have to spend time with them.  Brush them, groom them, ride them everyday.  The more time you put into them, the better they’ll be.  That’s the idea, anyway.

SD Polo:  Wow, that sounds like a lot of work.  You’re 18, just graduated high school.  How long have you been playing polo and what would you be doing if you didn’t play?
Jesse: I’ve been playing ever since I can remember.  I moved here from New Zealand when I was two, and I was definitely on a horse before then.  Playing polo is my life.  There is no other path.

SD Polo: So you didn’t really have a choice.  You were born into it because your father plays.
Jesse:  I did have a choice.  I played soccer growing up and eventually had to choose between soccer and polo.

SD Polo:  What do you think about playing with your dad?
Jesse:  It’s just another job.  There is always competition, but it always brings out the best in both of us.  Obviously, I’d rather play against him so I can beat him.

SD Polo:  Did your dad teach you to play polo?
Jesse:  I had a lot of help from different people… Kimo, Danny Rowland, Gaston VonWernich, but mostly my dad.

SD Polo:  When you’re playing with sponsors, do you ever give them feedback, or do you leave that to the older pros?
Jesse:  We all help each other.  The sponsors usually ask for feedback or how to improve.  I’ll help anyone that wants to learn.

SD Polo:  What was Team USPA about?
Jesse: The USPA picks 8 players between ages 18-31 to be on the team.  We go to clinics, they help with internships, networking and jobs too.  It gets my name out of California.   I worked with Julio Arellano, one of the best players in the United States.  He was one of the mentors in the program and I really learned a lot from him.

SD Polo:  You’re young and you have your whole polo career ahead of you.  Where do hope the sport takes you?
Jesse: Ideally, I’ll travel the world and play polo.  I’d love to travel Europe and Argentina.  I’ll be the best I can be.

Meet Ashton Wolf

He has 30 horses, 3 kids, 1 wife and a whole lot of love for polo.  In our opinion, Ashton has grown into a great team player, and often times you will hear him communicating with his team during play.  Having Ashton on your team may be your greatest asset.

How did you start playing polo?
I started grooming for Casablanca (an American team in San Diego) and took lessons with the White Family.  I picked it up quickly and soon became pro.

Have you ever had a bad injury?
(laughs) You name the bone, I’ve broken it.  Hand, wrist, cheek, nose, foot…

How did they happen?
Mostly from being bucked off.  But I played through the game.  You have to.

Is there any technique to falling off a horse?
Yea, don’t fall off.

What about finding a groom?  Do you have any advice?
Trial and error.  Everyone likes things a little different, so a good groom is taught by the horse’s owner or pro.

How many horses do you have?
30.   A lot of them are young and not ready to play polo yet.

Wow.  That must take up a lot of time.  What is your daily routine?
Wake up early, check on the horses, ride a few sets, chill and either play in the afternoon, stick and ball or ride again.

Where are you from?
My father is from Austria, but I’m from here (USA).  I’ve done a lot of traveling in Europe, Asia, etc.  My wife, Marisa, is from Guatemala, so we’ve traveled in Central America quite a bit.

Didn’t you just take a vacation?
Yea, to Thailand with my wife and kids.  It was gorgeous.  We went to the Philippines and Singapore too.


A
shton & Marisa


Ashton & Sophia


Ashton & Matias

Tell us about your kids.
Ana Sophia is 5, Matias will be 3 in a couple weeks and Isabella will be 1 in September.  Isabella is running the show.  They like to help me with the horses- feed, ride, or wrap their legs (mainly just Soph).  We are like any normal family- go to the beach, play outside, ride bikes, anything really.

You and Marisa seem pretty laid back.  It’s hard to imagine you have 3 kids and 30 horses!
My wife is amazing! Plus, we have tons of family and friends that love the kids as much as we do.  Everyone contributes to their lives.

Matias, Erika (soon to be Auntie), Sophia, Isabella, Uncle Coco (Marisa’s brother), Marisa.  Supporting Papa Ashton at Empire Polo Club.

Meet Diego Cossio.

We sat down with the shy and very humble Diego Cossio and learned a few surprises about this polo star.

How did you get your start?
I started playing in 1996 in the US.  I played for 10 years under the famous Steve Crowder.  He’s a good man and I owe him a lot.

Where do you play now?
San Diego of course, but I love playing in Calgary and Florida.


Do you do any cross-training?
I swim and play soccer.  After injuries, I lift weights.

Oh really?
Don’t put that.

What is your favorite sport to watch?
Ice hockey because it’s similar to polo in that the key is following the ball and pushing players out of the way.  Soccer too.

What about when you want to veg out?
Veg out?  Family Guy.  It’s light hearted and easy to watch.  The stuff they get away with is crazy.

Favorite movie?
Horror definitely.  The Exorcist.

Favorite book?
Wow.  It’s been a while.  The Alchemist – it’s simple but the ending is very good.

Can you play any instruments?
I’m actually an accomplished musician, you didn’t know that?  I’ve been playing guitar for a few years, self taught.

Diego and his band performing at Crash and Burn 2010.

So, what’s on your iPod?
Slayer, Rob Zombie, Alice in Chains, Pantera.

Anything in spanish?
Oh yea, Hermetica!  They are a really good heavy metal band in Argentina.

What’s a typical meal?
Meat.  If I can eat steak 3-4 times a week, I’m happy.

Any exciting news?
I’m taking a trip to Europe with my girlfriend, just for fun.  We are leaving Colton behind for a couple of days.  We don’t have plans, just a wedding to attend in Scotland, then backpack around for a bit.

Stacy and Colton, Diego’s family.

Sounds fun.  What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to continue playing polo for a few years.  Eventually, I would want to go back to farming sugar cane – I grew up doing it.  I just really love the whole process.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Home – Tucumán Province, Argentina (known internationally for its sugarcane).