Blue Crab Clas­sic comes to Wal­dorf

Polocrosse event brought many from nearby and far away

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT Spe­cial to the In­de­pen­dent

Polocrosse teams from across the coun­try came to Mid­dle­ton’s Cedar Hill Farm this past week­end for The Blue Crab Clas­sic, a two-day tour­na­ment com­plete with food, ca­ma­raderie and the love of an up-and-com­ing horse­back sport.

The Bay Area Polocrosse Club hosted the event, which at­tracted play­ers from Mary­land, Vir­ginia, Penn­syl­va­nia, Delaware, North Carolina and Alabama.

Kate­lyn James, pres­i­dent of the An­napo­lis-based club, or­ga­nized the fes­tiv­i­ties and se­cured Cedar Hill Farm as the venue. Bay Area had not hosted a tour­na­ment in two years and had never used this par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion. James was pleased with the event and hopes to host it again next year.

“The week­end went well. We had some re­ally great weather, had a good turnout and ev­ery­thing for the most part ran pretty smoothly,” James said. “It seems that peo­ple are happy, ex­cited. I think we’ll have a good re­turn turnout next year.”

Polocrosse is a com­bi­na­tion of polo and lacrosse, con­sist­ing of teams of three play­ers rid­ing on horse­back and car­ry­ing sticks with loose, net­ted bas­kets on the end. The play­ers are as­signed the po­si­tion of No. 1 (at­tack), No. 2 (mid­field) and No. 3 (de­fense). The field is 160 yards long and 60 yards wide and is di­vided into three ar­eas. There are two 30-yard goal-scor­ing ar­eas on each end, with the mid­dle area com­pris­ing the mid­field. Only the No. 1 of the of­fen­sive team and the No. 3 of the de­fen­sive team can be in the goal area, and

the ball must be passed or bounced into the zone, it can­not be run across the line.

To start the game and af­ter each point, the play­ers line up side-by-side and the um­pire throws the ball be­tween both teams. In or­der to score, the rub­ber ball must be thrown be­tween the goal posts, which are eight feet apart. Games con­sisted of three six-minute pe­ri­ods, called chukkas, with mul­ti­ple games go­ing on at once. For in­stance, two teams would play one chukka, then take a break while an­other pair of teams played, and so on. Ev­ery club played four games over the week­end, two on each day.

Un­like most other team sports, play­ers are not di­vided by gen­der, age or ex­pe­ri­ence. In­stead, they are sep­a­rated into grades, span­ning from A to E, based on skill level. Play­ers are also not bound to their home clubs, be­cause one club may not have a full team in ev­ery grade. James said that play­ers will of­ten play with other clubs to fill out teams, which is a pri­mary rea­son why friend­ship and a sense of com­mu­nity is so ev­i­dent in the sport.

Teams are of­ten made up of fam­ily mem­bers, with chil­dren and par­ents play­ing with and against each other. Some­times, even three gen­er­a­tions are in­volved. Michele Mor­ring and her fam­ily drove all the way from Mo­bile, Ala., to play in

the tour­na­ment. Mor­ring, the pres­i­dent of the Heart of Dixie Polocrosse club, plays with her daugh­ter, Baleigh Mor­ring, and her mother, Karen Harper.

“It’s a fam­ily thing,” Mor­ring said. “Mom is ob­vi­ously grow­ing older and her body won’t al­low her to do this for much longer, so we’re try­ing to do more fur­ther away tour­na­ments that we’ve never made be­fore. So far, we’re all un­de­feated, so it’s worth the trip.”

Mor­ring started their club in 2012, and now there are two clubs in the area as the sport con­tin­ues to grow. She said they even have a few mem­bers from Lafayette, La., who make a five-hour drive just for prac­tice with the club. Mor­ring said that those play­ers will soon make

their own club in Louisiana, and there could be an­other club form­ing in Florida.

The unique makeup of polocrosse makes it ap­peal­ing to play­ers of all ages and can at­tract peo­ple from many dif­fer­ent back­grounds. Jamie Daw­son of War­wick ran a com­pany that de­signed and built web­sites. At the age of 64, he worked with a graphic de­signer who owned horses and also played polocrosse. Daw­son be­came in­ter­ested in the sport, and af­ter watch­ing a match he was hooked.

“Once I went and watched, I went ‘I gotta try this,’” Daw­son said. “That’s num­ber one on the bucket list right there.”

Daw­son will turn 71 in Oc­to­ber. He was the old­est player at the tour­na­ment, play­ing

No. 3 for the Bucks County Polocrosse club (Pa.).

On the other end of the spec­trum were two play­ers from the Heart­land Polocrosse club in Vir­ginia. Nine-year-old Ella Hatcher was the youngest player at the tour­na­ment, fol­lowed by friend and team­mate Amira Cooney, 10. Both play­ers had dis­tinct ideas on why the sport is en­joy­able to them.

“I like be­ing able to gal­lop across the fields and score goals,” Cooney said.

“The so­cial part, I like to make friends,” Hatcher said.

Su­gar­loaf Moun­tain Polocrosse of Boyds won the A and E grades, a com­bined team of Bay Area, Carolina Polocrosse Club (N.C.) and Su­gar­loaf was first in C grade and Heart of Dixie won the D grade.

Polocrosse is huge in Aus­tralia and South Africa, and there is a World Cup ev­ery four years. The sport is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in the United States, and con­tin­ues to spread along the east coast. James hopes the Blue Crab Clas­sic can pro­vide fur­ther ex­po­sure for the sport in the area and wants the Bay Area club to grow across the state.

“We’re try­ing to pro­mote the sport in the county and the south­ern Mary­land re­gion,” James said. “If any­one is in­ter­ested, I would love for them to con­tact us or an­other club. Come out and watch, or play with us, we’re al­ways look­ing for new mem­bers and the com­mu­nity is al­ways grow­ing.”

ALY­CIA GOD­DARD/CHARLES STREET PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Tyler Webb of Bay Area snares the ball dur­ing the line up in the Blue Crab Clas­sic last week­end.

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