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Polo at UVA: More Than Just a Game

Jenny GermrothJenny Germroth is Development Coordinator at Virginia Polo. She first became involved with the team while attending the University of Virginia, where it played a pivotal role in her life and opened doors for her across the United States. Germroth now supports current students in the program with professional skill and confidence development, both in the Polo Club and outside the arena. She guides players in creating magazine content, plans club events with student involvement, coaches students as they take on engagement responsibilities, and orchestrates enriching activities, including sessions with a sports psychologist and clinicians.


Dedication, the rewards of hard work, leadership, and a sense of community are just a few benefits students gain from their time in the Virginia Polo Club while at the University of Virginia. While many people think of wealth and royalty when polo is mentioned, our club offers students an entirely different route into the sport. Since our founding in 1953, the club has offered the University’s students the opportunity to play polo affordably. Virginia Polo, Inc. is able to achieve this because of generous donations; these dollars and horses bridge the gap between the actual cost of polo and the manageable dues students pay.

Player riding on a horse at the 2024 Division I National Intercollegiate ChampionshipShaping Experts On and Off the Field

Along with the mission of making polo affordable to students, the Club also involves students in every aspect of the horse management and running of the program, from feeding and mucking to basic veterinary care of the entirely donated string of polo ponies.[1] Members come from diverse backgrounds, some from a polo-playing background and others from a more modest background of horseback riding lessons at public barns. The club offers real value to both groups as the students learn to care for the horses, which makes the sport possible. They gain skills in the complexities of managing horses, horse fitness, and working as a team to balance the responsibilities of a large herd. The program gives students the opportunity to take ownership of the equine athletes that are essential to their success in the arena. We strive to produce excellent horsemen and women and provide a world-class polo experience; Virginia Polo is proud to have set many students on their path to equine veterinary careers.

A Look into the Evolution of UVA’s Polo Club

While many public universities across the country have intercollegiate polo programs, the Virginia Polo program at UVA is one of the top programs and facilities in the country. Year after year, the United States Polo Association chooses to host the National Intercollegiate Championship tournament at the Virginia Polo Center due to our outstanding facility, all paid for and designed by our alumni. The Polo Club has been a passion project for UVA alumni for the past 70 years, its humble beginning in 1953 with a devoted group of students on what now is known as “Polo Grounds Rd” off Route 29N.

Spectators watching a Polo Match in 1968The original club was composed of only a few experienced players eager to share the sport with other students. These original UVA polo players wore the hats of coaches, fundraisers, field laborers, and horse caregivers. Together, they created the UVA Polo Club on a river bottom field owned by Professor Oglesby. They made polo games the place to be on Sundays in Charlottesville for the then-all-male UVA student body. Anyone who was at UVA in the ‘50s and ‘60s will recall how small the town of Charlottesville was, including the University; students would take their dates to polo games along the Rivanna River and tailgate. The club started with minimal resources, but the founders were dedicated and determined to grow and share the sport with others at UVA. Through continued alumni involvement and support, these founders and generations of UVA polo players that followed continued to give back both financially and with the professional skills they earned with their UVA educations.

Building Skills, Community, and Champions

The Virginia Polo Club now owns a world-class arena polo facility on Old Lynchburg Road, and the mission has not changed: providing the opportunity for students to play polo affordably and gain valuable life skills through horse care. A perfect example of the success of this mission is third-year student Mackenzie Craig. Mackenzie first learned to play polo at a summer camp at Virginia Polo but was not able to afford to play again until she came to UVA as a student in the fall of 2022. First a member of the club team, Mackenzie took advantage of the opportunities to ride daily and practice with stronger players and earned her way onto the women’s team for the 2023-2024 school year. During this year, Mackenzie competed on a three-woman team for UVA at polo competitions and achieved the ultimate goal of college polo players–winning the 2024 National Championship title. Of this opportunity, Mackenzie says, “It was such an honor to represent Virginia at the National Championships this year, especially since I first learned polo in this program. I’ve been blessed with so much opportunity at Virginia, and I truly believe I would not be the person or player I am today without Virginia Polo. Winning a national title with only four semesters of real playing time is a tribute to how exceptional our program is.”

Women’s team with trophy at the 2024 Division I National Intercollegiate ChampionshipVirginia Polo removes the financial barriers to polo so Mackenzie and many other students can embrace the chance to learn and play this exciting sport during their years at UVA. These opportunities are only possible thanks to the contributions of alumni, parents, and friends. These student-athletes need support to have the chance to become National Champions and experience the joys and challenges of horsemanship and polo. UVA has a uniquely remarkable polo program that truly changes the lives of the students who dedicate their time and energy to it, opening new horizons and connections for them in the polo world and linking them to the many alumni who’ve come before.


[1] “String” is a term for the horses needed to play a game of polo. “Ponies” is used to refer to polo horses.