The USPA Board of Governors, Committees, Subsidiary Boards, Club Delegates, Members and staff met in the Pacific Northwest Circuit in Stevenson, Washington, September 27-30 for the 2017 USPA Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting. A cocktail reception kicked off the week’s events on Wednesday evening at the Skamania Lodge against a beautiful Colombia River Gorge backdrop. Two days of committee meetings and staff presentations preceded the Fall Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting that concluded Saturday afternoon with a lively reception at Sean Key’s Hidden Creek Polo Club in West Linn, Oregon.
USPA Chairman Joseph Meyer’s announcement to dedicate more time to his new startup and subsequent decision not to run for a third term, resulted in a shift in many leadership positions in the governance of the Association. The following members have been installed as Officers on the USPA Board of Governors: Chip Campbell as Chairman, Stewart Armstrong as Secretary, and Sam Ramirez Jr. as Treasurer. An election was held for the President position between Tom Gose and Tony Coppola; Tony Coppola won the election and will now serve as President. Following recommendations from both the Board and Staff Development Committee and newly elected Chairman Chip Campbell, the Board unanimously voted to have Robert Puetz installed as the new Chief Executive Officer. The newly formed Executive Committee consists of the Officers listed above as well as Paul Jornayvaz, Dan Walker, Maureen Brennan, Stephen Orthwein Jr. and Tom Gose.
Newly elected Governors at Large were installed including, Peter Rizzo, Chrys Beal and Charles Smith; Robert Jornayvaz III, Avery Chapman, and Dale Smicklas stepped down from their previous positions. Following the results of the Presidential Election, the new Board was required to fill vacancies for Governors at Large. Nominations for open positions were made and the board elected Tom Gose and Mike Carney into the final two positions.
Immediately following the conclusion of Saturday’s Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting, former Border Circuit Governor Dan Coleman submitted his resignation to Chairman Campbell who then appointed Tony Yahyai as the interim Border Circuit Governor.
Aside from a reorganization of the leadership, there were many important items that were accomplished at the meetings. The Board approved the Member Club Actions listed below and the 2018 budget with a stipulation of a 5% decrease in the total budget.
Member Clubs moving from provisional to active in 2018:
ATX Polo Club (Manor, Texas)
Bend Polo Club (Bend, Oregon)
Bloomfield Polo Club (Saratoga Springs, New York)
Commonwealth Polo Club (Paris, Kentucky)
Congressional Polo Club (Poolesville, Maryland)
Cypress Polo Club (Lake Worth, Florida)
Farmington Polo Club (Farmington, Connecticut)
Flying Cow Polo Club (Wellington, Florida)
Franklin Polo Academy (Franklin, Tennessee)
Green Country Polo Club (Mounds, Oklahoma)
San Diego Surf Polo Club (Del Mar, California)
Seneca Polo Club (Poolesville, Maryland))
Spokane Polo Club (Spokane, Washington)
Member Clubs moving to provisional in 2018:
Central Oregon Polo Club (Bend, Oregon)
Oak Brook Polo Club (Oak Brook, Illinois)
Spa City Polo Club (Gansevoort, New York)
New Associate Member Club for 2018:
Monte Carlo Polo Club (Country of Monaco)
Individual committees and LLCs also presented the Board with updates, future initiatives and requests:
The Arena Committee reported that arena polo is strong within the United States and looks forward to the widespread use of women’s arena handicaps and the newly awarded Intercollegiate/Interscholastic tournaments (refer to Tournament Committee for further details).
Armed Forces Committee
The committee has added Jake Flournoy as Co-Chair with Karl Hilberg. The committee also gave an update on funds available for clubs that wish to host circuit and national Armed Forces tournaments. The committee reported that they have recently entered into discussions with Mark Bellissimo on the potential for Armed Forces players to compete at Tryon Resort in Mill Spring, North Carolina.
Board and Staff Development Committee
The Board and Staff Development Committee has received funding from the Board in the amount of $25,000 to hire an outside professional on governance to aid association structure and facilitate discussion on governance issues. Leighton Jordan and Peter Rizzo were installed as Co-Chairman of the committee.
Club and Membership Administration Committee
The committee voted to endorse Polo Development’s club tiering process to be adopted for evaluating all Member Clubs.
The Board endorsed the Constitution Committee’s recommendation for changes to the Constitution for the upcoming year.
Equine Welfare Committee
The Equine Welfare Committee received approval of the new Equine Drug Testing Procedures. While the drug testing procedures themselves are not new, a thorough and detailed description of the process was approved by the board. Dr. Mike Manno was also selected to replace Mark Sedacca as committee chair.
The committee also voted to endorse The Right Horse Initiative, which is a program funded by the WaterShed Animal Fund, a division of the Arnall Family Foundation dedicated to improving the lives of companion animals. Our goal is to massively increase the number of successful horse adoptions in the United States by working together to reframe the adoption conversation and shatter the stigma surrounding horses in transition.
The Finance committee has recommended to the board and the Board supports their recommendation to reduce the 2018 budget by 5% and to reduce the 2019 budget by 10% over the 2018 budget.
National Handicap Committee
The committee now has an online recommendation process for Club Delegates to submit their recommendations.
High Goal Committee
The Board approved the High Goal Committee’s revised High Goal Committee Guidelines which will allow three professionals and three team owners to serve.
Joseph Meyer will be taking over the Chairman position replacing George Dill.
Joseph Meyer was selected to replace Chuck Weaver as Chair of the committee.
The board approved an optional set of tournament conditions for alternative format arena polo (beach, snow and stadium polo, etc.) put forth by the Arena Rules Subcommittee so that clubs may sanction these types of tournaments with the USPA. The board also approved proposed changes to the Arena, Outdoor, International and USPA rules. Chris Green was selected to replace Tom Gose as Committee Chair.
A motion passed that as of June 1, 2020 the protective helmet required for players must be NOCSAE- approved.
A new national tournament entitled the USPA Women’s Arena Handicap was awarded to Virginia Polo Inc. (Charlottesville, Virginia) for 2017. The National Arena Amateur Cup was awarded to Lakeside Polo Club (Lakeside, California) for 2017.
The Board also approved the creation of two new Circuit tournaments: Circuit Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) Alumni Tournament, and a Circuit I/I JV and Club Level Tournament.
Following much discussion, it was decided that the Butler Handicap, C.V. Whitney, USPA Gold Cup® and U.S. Open Polo Championship® will move from 26-goals to 18-22 goals beginning in 2019.
The U.S. Open Polo Championship® was awarded to the International Polo Club (Wellington, Florida) for 2019-2021.
The Women’s Committee reported that the 2018 woman of the year nominations will be open to all USPA members. The Committee also presented that Board with an update on the Women’s World Cup to be played in Denver, Colorado, next year between the USA, Argentina, England and Jamaica.
The Board approved the Umpires LLC Board Member and Annual Terms, and Graham Bray was approved as a new board member.
Marketing LLC presented the board with an update on the USPA documentary as well as discussed success with livestreamed and televised broadcasts, commercials and vignettes. Marketing LLC also added Scott Devon, Rosemary Wayman, Melissa Ganzi and Chris Green to their board.
Polo Development LLC
USPA Polo Development, LLC has added Julio Arellano and Tommy Wayman to their board of governors. Kris Bowman stepped down as a regular board member but was approved as a non-voting ex-officio. The Board approved presented changes to National Youth Tournament Series tournament conditions.
USPA Global Licensing
The Board welcomed new Chief Operating Officer Michael Prince who attended all four days of meetings and activities. Chief Executive Officer David Cummings updated the Board on financial, marketing and legal matters relating to the U.S. Polo Assn brand.
The next Board of Governors Meeting will take place April 21, 2018, in Wellington, Florida.