It’s 6 o’clock on Friday morning when my alarm starts going off. I wake up, put on my white pants, pull on my boots, and head out the door. As I pull into the Camp Stewart show barn I see all of our junior players making their way from camp. The big stock trailer is parked out front and everyone begins catching horses. Everyone is anxiously talking and ready for the first day of play in the National Tournament.
Wow, what an amazing weekend! The 2012 American Polocrosse National Tournament has come and gone. The Camp Stewart Club had 21 people playing on 4 separate teams. Orange had great representation. Here is a look at how the weekend went. I’ll break it down by team and then give a full list of awards at the end.
Line 1 – Seton Uhlhorn, Jessica Stevens, and Taylor Cohen. Line 2 – William Morris, Shannon Klein, and Nathan Jackson.
The first Stewart team to play in the tournament was our Junior team, a combination of Heart O’ the Hills and Camp Stewart campers. The juniors had their own trailer at the field with all of their tack and polocrosse equipment. All of our campers learned how to braid their horse’s tail for tournaments and wrap their legs for safety. The first game was a great learning experience for our campers. It was the first time that they all got to play together and they quickly figured out how to make good connections with each other. They learned more about good field positioning and how to better play their individual positions.
They won their second game, and gained a lot of confidence and poise. Although they didn’t win another game, I just can’t even express how proud I am of our Junior Team. For most of the Heart girls, this past summer was their first time to even pick up a polocrosse racquet. Our junior team improved so much with every game and showed so much sportsmanship. They learned so much about the game and the rules. It’s always so wonderful to get a new generation excited about polocrosse. I’m hoping that the Camp Stewart Junior team makes many more appearances at different polocrosse tournaments.
Meredith Ragsdale, Kim Kneese, Meghan Sanders
Well, since this was my team I know lots of details for my team! The tournament for me started off rough. Within the first four minutes of my first game, I hyperextended my knee while defending our goal. After a 10 minute time out, I found some kneepads and hopped back on Oops (the polocrosse horse that I ride). I managed to play through the pain and our team won our first game. After a rest and icing my knee, it was time for our second game against the Lonestar team from Austin. We lost that game by 1 point.
On day two, our first match was against the Waldemar team who was undefeated. We had to beat them in order to secure our place in the finals on Sunday. Now for those of you who don’t know me, I have never been athletic. I didn’t play any team sports growing up or in high school. I barrel raced and took ballet dancing. My body is not accustomed to handling that sort of pressure, but I wrapped my right knee up, put on my kneepads, and headed out to the field to give it my all.
After the first chukka (time period), we were tied 0 to 0. As we dismounted our horses to rest, we went over some strategy with coach Jeeper and other Stewart players. With a great plan in mind, we tightened our cinches and headed back on to the field. Right away Waldemar got a goal on the board, but we didn’t let that fluster us. A minute later we scored a goal, making the score 1 to 1, and that’s where it stayed until the chukka was over. It was then time to go into sudden death. For sudden death they put six minutes on the clock and the first team to score wins. We lined up for the start of sudden death. Kim Kneese got the ball out of the line up and carried it down the field to Meredith. Meredith took her time in the area, set up a beautiful play, and scored the final goal which not only meant we won our game, but also secured our spot in the finals on Sunday.
On Sunday morning we met at the barn at 6:30 am to get ready for the final game at 8:15 am. A big cold front had come through during the night, so our horses were all blanketed and we were all bundled up in big sweatshirts. Our fingers were so cold we could barely braid our horses’ tails. Jeeper met us at the barn at 7:00 am and we loaded up the trailer and took off for the Waldemar field. Our team had so much help prepping for the finals game. I didn’t even have to tack my own horse. I focused on wrapping my knee and getting my muscles warmed up in the 45-degree weather.
At 8:15 the umpire’s whistle blew and we walked onto the field. With one deep breath, Oops and I walked into the line-up and the first ball of the game was thrown in. Both of our teams were fighting so hard for the ball. With numb fingers, it was hard to pick up the ball. At the end of the first chukka we were tied at 0. We had six minutes to rest our horses and try to suppress our nerves. There were so many people there helping us walk our horses, keeping us warmed up, and coaching us.
After six minutes, we walked back on to the field. With a new focus we were able to end the second chukka with a score of 1 to 0. It all came down to the third and final chukka. The Waldemar team was able to get a score on the board making it 1 to 1. After the number 3 on the Waldemar team did a dangerous play, we were able to take a penalty shot. Meredith made a beautiful goal and brought the score to 2 to 1. With 3 minutes left on the clock, all we had to do was keep them from scoring. For the remainder of the game we were able to hold the ball and win the game.
Everyone at the tournament from Camp Stewart rushed the field. It was the greatest feeling, knowing we had just won the national tournament. There was lots of hugging and screaming!
Line 1 – Michael “Mikey” Priour, Jennifer Matthews, Katie Henderson. Line 2 – Zach Pierson, Isaac Spear, Luis Chimal.
Our C Grade team was absolutely amazing! I had the privilege of training with most of them for nationals at Camp Stewart. They had a great start to the tournament winning both games on Friday. Saturday morning they played a tough team from Minnesota. It was an intense game, but Stewart was able to grab the win with a score of 5 to 3. That win secured their spot in the finals on Sunday, but they still had one more game to play that afternoon against the Waldemar C grade team. Waldemar made a great showing, but Stewart was able to come out on top.
The final game for the C grade team was at 10:00 am on Sunday. They were playing the same Minnesota team that had given them a run for their money on Saturday. Both teams came out on the field knowing the buckle and first place was on the line. Those six girls from Minnesota were tough, but our team was able to really work together and pull out the big win!
Line 1 – Jeeper Ragsdale, Pat Hensley, Matt Linsen. Line 2 – Cody Christopher, Jake Henderson, Lisa Cook
I just love watching our A Grade team play. Watching them make beautiful passes and amazing goals at such a fast pace is incredible. I am blown away by their athleticism and talent! Going into nationals, however, they were experiencing a little bad luck. Jeeper got bucked off a horse two weeks before the tournament and broke his nose and sprained his wrist, Cody had tennis elbow, Jake had broken ribs, and the horse Pat Hensley normally rides was lame. Despite their misfortunes, the team still showed up with a great attitude and came ready to play their best.
Watching them on the field you would never know that they were hurting. Unfortunately, my team played at the exact same time that they did, so I wasn’t able to watch most of their games. The guys did a wonderful job representing us, and won third place in the tournament.
The Big Joey (National Junior Player of the Year! Given to the junior player who not only showed great play, sportsmanship, and amazing character). – M’Lehne Linson (previous Heart Camper)
Best number 1 player – Meredith Ragsdale
Best number 3 player – Meghan Sanders
1st place – Camp Stewart
Best number 1 player – Mikey Priour
Best Horse – Wally, ridden by Mikey Priour, owned by Camp Stewart
1st place – Camp Stewart
Third Place – Camp Stewart