Tag Archives: Player Profile

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.

Meet Dirk Wray.

How does small town entrepreneurial kid from Michigan end up playing the Sport of Kings on the graced shores and World renown San Diego Polo Club?

After advance international degrees, corporate and Wall Street stints; advising many leaders including sovereign leaders, Dirk by accident insulted a member of the British aristocracy when he said, “You’re full of manure, they don’t play polo on Elephants!” Which resulted in a honor challenge to play on the Brit’s team the following month in then war torn Sri Lanka.

From his mixed martial arts and various sports background, Dirk surprised all by becoming the high goaler of the tournament; and, when asked which polo club he played at as a professional, he had to confessed to never riding a horse!

Back home in SoCal Dirk ventured to try his luck at the famed SDPC arena and on the third attempt met fate head on. Her name: Alisha. A local SD model beauty and competitive long time hunter jumper that “saw the light” and was “reborn” a polo player. The then single’s first match in the arena lead to a show of chivalry; that later lead to Dirk calling Alisha to ask her where she got her polo boots (nice line Dirk – Where there is a Wray; there is a Way!). Passionate love ever since and one of the rare couples in polo that can play the game together and win!

After a great nine years at the club, Dirk and Alisha hope that you will support the Club’s efforts to keep the 100+ year tradition of the oldest sport in history in San Diego. The couple’s businesses and charities are economic development focused: supporting health care, education, agriculture, water and energy in many countries, including the great U.S.A!

Meet Ellen Greenhill.

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Meet Ellen Greenhill.

Things you didn’t know about the fabulous Ellen Greenhill: 

1.      She has more than nine lives.

2.      She enjoys eating boxed Macaroni and Cheese with sliced hotdogs.

3.      Nostradamus prophesied her birth.

4.      Her garage floor is so clean you could eat off of it.

5.      She is extremely well organized, even her cars have their own file folders.

6.      Her guacamole inspired the term ‘holy guacamole.’

7.      She once warned a psychic.

8.      When she heckles comedians, they give her a standing ovation.

9.      Her charm is so contagious, vaccines were created for it.

10.    Even her parrot’s advice is insightful. 

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11.    The police often question her, just because they find her interesting.

12.    She once had an awkward moment, just to see how it felt.

13.    She survived being lost in the jungle on the island of La Digue in the Seychelles.

14.    She’s a lover… Not a fighter, but she’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.

15.    Her business card just says, “I’ll call you.”

16.    She once thought she was wrong, but she wasn’t.

17.    Her legend precedes her, the way lightning precedes thunder.

18.    She lives vicariously through herself.

19.    At museums she’s allowed to touch the art.

20.    She’s against cruelty to animals, and isn’t afraid to issue a stern warning.

21.    If she rides with you in your car, its resale value will instantly increase.

22.    The pheromones she secretes effect people miles away… in a slight, but measurable way.

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Meet Ron Bonaguidi.

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Meet Ron Bonaguidi.  President of the San Diego Polo Club.

We wanted to know more about Ron Bonaguidi, so this clever guy made us a list!

  1. I am nocturnal so it is difficult for me to play polo as it is a daytime sport.  
  2. I wear the same number on my jersey as Prince Charles.  
  3. I would rather surf than play polo.  
  4. My favorite place is Hanalei, Kauai so I named my team after it.  
  5. I was never class president or voted most likely to succeed.  
  6. I have never exercised sound judgment-last year I almost got into a fight with the biggest guy in the club.  
  7. I attended 6 different collages before finally graduating with a Bachelors Degree.  
  8. My favorite car is my Freightliner Truck with my 12 horse trailer hooked up behind.  
  9. I have never been athletic so I must practice continually to keep from getting worse. 
  10. I have a photographic memory-just kidding.  

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 11.  I hate these kind of interviews. 

12.  Some of the best polo players are “Bluebloods” from the east coast and “Cowboys” from Texas.  I am neither. 

13.  If the thought of a broken collar bone, broken fingers or ribs and soreness like a good beating appeals to you, you may be an ideal candidate for polo.

14.  If I play poorly during a game I blame it on the horse. 

15. Everyone gets the pre game jitters before a finals game especially the players who tell you they don’t.  

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16.  Often times I wonder why I would participate in a sport when there is always an ambulance on the sidelines during each game.  

17.  I took up polo shortly after watching Steve McQueen playing polo in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, I wanted to be just like him.

18. Never let your banker or lender’s know you play polo.  Never disclose it on an application for health insurance.

19. My name is often misspelled on my many trophies (just kidding about the many).  

20. Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable played polo.  Donald Trump does not.  

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21.  I don’t want a rank horse in my barn, one that kicks and bites.  My wife does enough of that.  

22.  Polo player’s by nature are very good dancers and they always have the best looking girlfriends and wives.  

23.  The best polo players show up for games driving compact rental cars.  

24.  Low goal hackers show up in Porsches.  

25.  My wife loves to play polo.  My costs have risen exponentially.  

26.  She feeds our horses carrots.  Now my horses like her better than me.  

27.  She takes my best horses for her string.  

28.  Don’t encourage your wife to play polo.  

29. I have an uncontrollable temper on the polo field and am apt to be ejected from games.  

30. The teams which I play against should be forewarned that I have been diagnosed with active Ebola Virus.

31. The check I wrote for my polo club membership fees will not be honored by my bank.

Meet Jake Brumby.

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Meet Jake Brumby.

SD Polo: How did you get involved in polo?
Brumby: I’ve raced motocross my whole life.  I spent a lot of time with my dad on dirt bikes.  I raced and did very well, but after a few injuries, my family wanted me to try something a little more safe.  I was going to either play football or hockey, but my mom wanted me to try a polo lesson before I made my decision.  So, here I am two years later and I’m addicted.

SD Polo: How old are you?
Brumby: I’m 15.

SD Polo: What are some of your accomplishments?
Brumby: Polo related?  I’ve played at a few different Polo Clubs, including Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA and Orange County Polo Club.  I won my division in the Pacific Coast Polo League and was overall MVP for the division.  I was -1 last year and was raised to 0.  Also, we just won the 3-Goal Chukkers for Charity match in June.  Not bad for 2 years under my belt.

SD Polo: What do you like to do when you aren’t playing polo?
Brumby: Anything adventurous.  I’d probably be playing football or lacrosse.  School, polo and friends are my life.

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 Jared Sheldon.

SD Polo: Where are you from and how did you get involved in polo?
Jared: Poway, CA.  My family plays polo so I was on a horse pretty much from birth. I didn’t start playing with adults until I was seven.  My dad’s side of the family is very involved in polo. My grandfather Russ Sheldon is currently rerunning for Governor at Large (of the USPA). My father, Billy Sheldon is 7 goals in the arena and has represented the USA in the FIPS and in the arena. My cousins Shane and Danika Rice are currently working in polo in Houston and their mother Sherry Sheldon also plays.

SD Polo: What did you do before you became pro?  What do you do in the off-season?
Jared:  Before Polo I attended New Mexico State University where I played on the intercollegiate team there. On the off seasons I manage the Bel Air Polo Club, located in Burbank, CA which is open year round.

SD Polo: Where have you played and what is your favorite place to play?
Jared:  I have mostly played on the California Circuit, (Santa Barbara, Indio, San Diego) but I have also been lucky enough to go to clubs in Florida, Canada, Texas, and a few other East Coast locations.  Santa Barbara is my favorite place to play because it has the best mix of quality polo and quality fields. It definitely doesn’t hurt that its across the street from the beach.

SD Polo: Have you ever had a bad injury?
Jared:  I have had a few good injuries. I broke my orbital bone (eye socket) back in 2006 and in Santa Barbara this season I broke my collar bone. Luckily I was able to get a plate put in so I could be back in time to play here (in San Diego).

SD Polo: Is there any technique to falling off the horse?
Jared: Tuck and Roll, and try not to get run over, I guess.

SD Polo:  What do you do when you’re not playing polo or spending time with the horses?
Jared: Playing XBox with friends, hitting the gym, and taking my girlfriend and our two dogs to the beach.  I love mexican food too, especially if its from the Poway Taco Shop on Midland road.

SD Polo:  What does the future hold?
Jared: I’d love to go to Europe and catch an Arsenal game or travel to Argentina.  Hopefully my life involves polo, polo, and more polo.

Meet Mariano Gutierrez.

He’s known in the polo world for his polo skills, but more importantly, he’s Britney Spears’ heart throb in the music video RADAR.  Check out the video below:

SD Polo: Tell us about the Radar video.  How did you get chosen to be the heart throb?
Gutierrez: I had nothing to do with it.  The producer looked at photos and chose me.  I thought I was going to be an extra.  I didn’t know I was the main guy until that day.  I thought it was just for polo.  Britney was really polite.  She was laughing a lot when we were taping and kept apologizing.

SD Polo: Have you done any previous acting or modeling?
Gutierrez: No but yes.  After the Radar video I was on a billboard in Argentina.  I was paid with wine.

SD Polo: Are you from Argentina? How long are your visits?
Gutierrez: Yes, I am from Buenos Aires.  I am usually there about 6 months out of the year, which is more than it used to be.

SD Polo: What do you do in Argentina?
Gutierrez: I love to play soccer and rugby.  I hang out with my family, play drums with my little brother and work at a skateboard shop.  I’m part owner.  We took this old building and fixed it up.  We put a skateboard ramp in the store and we have live music, parties and also sell skateboard clothing.

SD Polo: What about polo?  Do you want to play forever?
Gutierrez: Forever, no way.  Not as a job.  I want to do other stuff.  Maybe go back to school.  I went to law school in Argentina, but quit to play polo professionally.

SD Polo: How did you get involved in polo?
Gutierrez:  All 5 of my brothers play, but I am the only one who plays professionally.  I came to the United States in 2001 with my cousin, Miguel Gutierrez.  I started playing in San Diego in 2003, came back for 05, 06, 07 and now in 2011.  I’ve played for Rick and Robin Paicus for the past 5 years in Indio, CA and Aspen.

SD Polo:  Are you happy to be back in San Diego?
Gutierrez: Of course!  I love San Diego.  The people, the place and the enviroment.  It’s a fun place.

SD Polo: Last question: are you single?
Gutierrez: Yes!

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 Kimo Huddleston

We swung by Kimo’s barn and found him with his two daughters, Hi’ilawe and Ilihia, jamming to some Hawaiian tunes and cleaning his horse stalls.
Kimo, tell us how you got here.
Well, it starts with Steph (my wife).  We met in Oahu at a polo match.  She came to watch and we just started talking.  One day we went riding and when she fell off and got back on, I knew she was the one.  We got married, moved to the big island and had 2 girls, Hi’ilawe and Iliha.  Steph became a nurse and wanted to move to San Diego to take care of her family.  Playing polo in San Diego seemed like a great opportunity so she didn’t have to ask twice.

Kimo holding his youngest daughter Uakea and chatting with his eldest, Hi’ilawe.
How long have you played here and where else have you played?
I’ve been here for four years.  My family is here, so we don’t move around (like most players).  I’ve played in San Diego, Indio and Oregon.
How long have you been teaching at our Polo School?
This is my third season.
How did you get involved in the Polo School?
I started teaching private lessons in my spare time and it just developed from there.  I started teaching intermediate lessons and just this past year, beginner lessons.  I actually like the beginner lessons better because the players don’t know much and are better students.  I go crazy when someone has taken 3 lessons and they think they know everything.  I want to knock them around.  I’ve been playing for 30 years and they think they know more than me.  I love teaching and helping people who want to learn.
So, what do you do to relax?
I can’t.  Well, maybe with a golf club.
What do you mean, golf?
Yea.  I was going to come to San Diego to either play polo or golf.  I won a $700 bet a few years ago on the Encinitas golf course.  I guess the full sleeve of tattoos threw the guy off.
That’s pretty funny.  Switching gears here, how do you find help?
Well, Hi’ilawe (his eldest daughter) helps me groom.  She needed money and something to do over the summer.  I figure I have to pay someone, it might as well be my kid.
What about finding a horse?  What is the process involved?
Once you put out the word at the barn, they (horse breeders and trainers) come out of the woodwork.  Everyone is different with how they choose horses.  I look for one a good size and good tempermant.  I don’t care if it’s ugly, it has to be good.  And it’ll look good playing.  Then you stick and ball with it a bit, try it out in practice chukkers, see how it handles and then make a deal.
Does that usually take a few weeks?
Yea.  If it takes longer than that, you’re not going to buy it.
That makes sense.  Do all of your horses have Hawaiian names?
Yep.  Hula Girl, Shakalaka, Onolicious, Big Mama… I actually have a funny story about Big Mama.  I was playing her in a game and this larger woman was on the opposing team.  The woman came ripping right past me and Big Mama wanted to go fast too, but I said, “easy Big Mama, easy.”  The heavier woman came up to me after the game and told me it wasn’t very nice that I commented on her weight.  Everyone laughed and I explained the horse’s name was Big Momma.
Oh no.  Big Momma sounds like a trouble-maker.  Tell us Kimo, what does the future hold for you?
I was meant to play sports, so I’ll keep playing polo for as long as I can.  Then retire and play golf!