LA QUINTA — When you have a tradition of competitiveness as rich as Occidental College does, it doesn’t matter what the sport is. The Tigers can rally up a crowd for any type of athletic competition. Even one as foreign and obscure as polo.
Thanks to the hustle, organization and sponsorship of Tigers Club representatives Lyn and Herschel Cobb ‘65, Oxy alums gathered at the El Dorado Polo Club for a leisurely afternoon of watching the “Sport of Kings” on April 1.
The Cobb family is no stranger to sports. Herschel is the grandson of the famous baseball player Ty Cobb and his son, a sophomore on the Oxy men’s basketball team, is named after the all-time great.
Lyn and their daughter Madelyn are avid polo players, and Lyn actually participated in Game 1 with her Menlo team before breaking down the nuances of the horseback-played team sport for Oxy patrons in the afternoon.
The twist, Lyn’s team donned orange jerseys with “Occidental” draped across the front, showcasing the prestigious liberal arts institution on a playing field where it’s not typically represented.
“The Cobbs could not have been better hosts,” Occidental athletic director Jaime Hoffman said. “They ordered up perfect weather, great company and an introduction to polo that promises to keep our Oxy alumni returning for more.”
Lyn is a third generation polo player who still competes regularly.
Madelyn, 22, is the captain of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s club team that recently won the west regional and will compete for a national championship on April 17-20.
Herschel said the Cobb’s wanted the Oxy community to experience a pastime that’s been in their family for generations, while working on fundraising and enjoying an exciting afternoon of a sport that most don’t usually experience.
“We wanted to share with the Oxy family some nice things that we’ve had in our lives and attract folks that might enjoy the event,” Herschel said. “It’s a great thing to see, it’s an incredibly beautiful setting, and it really makes for a nice, high-end afternoon.”
Jim Mora ‘57, longtime NFL coach and former Oxy football player and coach, was among the headliners that attended the event.
Cam Clark Ford defeated Lyn’s Occidental team 9-6 in Game 1 to improve to 2-0 in the Governors Cup standings. In the second game, Deco beat La Conner.
But there’s much more to the sport than scoring, winning and losing. Herschel says the horses are “incredible athletes,” and the jockeys are “very skilled horseman.”
The sport is handicapped with each competing player receiving a rating somewhere between -2 up to 10. A game is played with a given number, where the sum of the team’s four players doesn’t exceed that total amount allotted for one squad.
With horses flying by at 25 – 35 miles per hour on a 300 x 150 yard field not far from where spectators sit, you can, “feel the earth move,” says Herschel. During intermission fans walk the course to stop divots and socialize with one another, a tradition in polo that adds to the spectator experience.
The hope is that another polo event in the not-so-distant future, this time in the Bay Area where the Cobb’s reside, will be the next gathering for Oxy alums to experience the dynamic sport.
Tiger Club has been a key Oxy athletics fundraising vehicle since 1979. Its mission is to enhance the experience of Occidental student-athletes through moral and financial support. To learn more about how to join, click here.