By SABRINA HAYES/Montana State News

According to head coach Rob Brooks, the Montana State University horse polo team will be ready for competition by the fall 2014 tournament season ending their two-year break from competitive play.

Members of the Montana State University polo team practice in preparation for competitive play later this year.

Members of the Montana State University polo team practice in preparation for competitive play later this year.

Since the team formed nine years ago, they have never taken a break from regional competition. According to Brooks, the pause was necessary due to the economy and the lack of experienced players.

Two of the players have been on the team for three years, three are in their second year, and the rest are rookies, according to Brooks.

For the coaches and experienced players, competition is just another game, but for new players like Becca Shephard and Marlee Krietzman, competition is a whole new animal.

Shepard, who joined last spring, said, “I had only ridden horses a few times, but I wanted to try polo and this came pretty easily.”

New players are welcome any time during the year, but are required to watch three practices before mounting a horse and playing the game. Krietzman attended her first practice last Thursday. Sitting in the stands, she said, “Three ground practices and they throw you into the ring — just like that.”

When the team begins competing again later this year, they’ll be playing in Idaho against polo teams from Eastern Oregon University, Washington State and the University of Idaho, among others. Brooks says, “We’re by no means the black sheep, but these other teams have a lot more time and a lot more experience. They’re practicing four days a week. We get one.”

Always striving to improve, the team is holding a three-day polo workshop in March to better all the players – new and old.

Anyone interested in joining the team can attend Thursday practices at 6 p.m. in the Miller Livestock Pavillion.

– Edited by Helen Smith 

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