Blue Crab Classic comes to Waldorf
Polocrosse event brought many from nearby and far away
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.”
Tyler Webb of Bay Area snares the ball during the line up in the Blue Crab Classic last weekend.