Tallahassee did extremely well in the regional qualifiers, with 6 players qualifying for the North Americans. What are you doing as a club to help them get there?
They did do well! I feel so proud and lucky to be a part of the club–I learn so much from them at pickup. Tallahassee players have qualified for North Americans for at least the past three seasons, but they don’t usually wind up going. I guess it’s expensive to travel 1000+ miles with a bike? Wah wah, boo hoo. I figure it’s time to ditch that excuse and do some fundraising, so I made a sticker (who doesn’t love stickers?) to represent general polo love, not love for any particular team or brand of gear. I’ve been selling them on our club page’s shop here (http://tallahasseebikepolo.wordpress.com/shop/) for a couple dollars and have been shipping them all over as far away as Scotland. It’s incredible getting that kind of support from strangers.
Tell us a little bit about Tallahassee
Tallahassee is the capital of Florida and has 3 major universities so it’s a lot of old white guys and college kids here. Then there are some in-betweenies, but I don’t see children like ever. Locals will be mad at me for saying that–I’m not from here! I came for college and stayed put after graduation. Wikipedia says there are 183,000 people here. I think Tallahassee is the best of both worlds when it comes to urban/suburban life. We’ve got urban farms and shops and cute neighborhoods and it’s nice and compact and extremely bike-able.
When and how did polo start here?
Way before I’d ever heard of it, that’s for sure. It started here in 2004 with Justin, Ryler, and Danny (and others, obviously but these three still play here and I don’t know the others). They made up their own rules because there weren’t any for hardcourt yet. Justin made mallets out of golf clubs and wooden blocks, used a whiffle ball, and played 2-6 to a side. By 2008 they were using ski poles and hockey balls and freewheels and rules. Danny tells me it grew out of hanging out at Krank it Up! (local co-op bike shop) a lot and just playing around on bikes–trackstand competitions, footdown, alleycats, etc.
This is them with their wacky mallets and weird bikes in 04 or 05, I think.
How many people play in your city?
We have about 12-15 players. We don’t get new players too often but we have graciously adopted a few players from other cities. Here’s most of us (plus a few outside-Tallahassee players) gussied up at Danny Wood’s wedding this past May. (I’m the lady in black)
How often do you play?
Pickup happens at least twice a week all year long, sometimes 3 if the weather is extra nice or we’re getting amped for a tournament.
Tell us about your courts (surface, size, number, any cost?)
We have two main spots for pickup round here. One is an abandoned, red tennis court in the middle of a spooky graveyard. Secluded and scenic. There are no lights though, so we typically play there on weekends only. When it rains, is too hot/humid/sun-burny, and on weeknights, we play in a parking garage on university campus. It’s not exactly “allowed” but we’re respectful loiterers.
What have you found works to get new people playing polo in your city.
That’s a toughie–I guess persistent encouragement and solidarity are what helped me stick with it. I’m a relatively new player–one year this summer–and it was a tough time starting out in an all-star club as a newbie by myself. I quit for a little while because feeling like I was the only one in everybody’s way all the time was discouraging, but I picked it up again and stuck with it when 2 or 3 other new players started at the same time. That definitely helped. We have a really great-spirited group of players that are constantly encouraging each other. It’s just hard to break into the middle of the pack when the majority of the club consistently podiums everywhere they go!
Exhibit A: the Ginyu Force.
Are there any other clubs nearby? How far away is the nearest city that plays?
I believe the nearest clubs are Gainesville, FL (149 mi) and Jacksonville, FL (164 mi)
Do you play with other clubs in your country often? If so is this for tournaments for just casual?
The US is quite big so I’ll answer about the southeast region Florida had a bench minor league going for a minute but it sort of fizzled out. The southeast region usually has at least one tournament each month and we almost always have some players there to rep our club. I personally haven’t traveled out of region to play so I’m not sure what to compare the southeast players to, but seems to me they’re the coolest people anywhere ever.
This is us (Tallywhackers) winning a gigantic mallet at our bench minor match vs. Jacksonville, FL.
Has your city hosted any tournaments or are you hosting any soon? Please tell us about them.
This past December we hosted All Florida 5 which is a strictly Florida-players-only annual tournament. That’s the biggest one. Otherwise we have thrice hosted “Hungry Hungry Hippolo”–it’s a regular mediumish tournament with one exciting added rule. When there’s a tie, instead of sudden death/beer point, we throw 7 balls in the middle and re-joust. Kind of like the Hungry Hungry Hippos board game, that was the idea.
This is everyone at the end of All Florida 5:
Tell us a little known fact about your city
Some call Tallahassee “the crotch of the US” because of our capitol building. Just google it. Here I did it for you. You’re welcome.
Answers by Alison Mabee
Want to see more City Reports? You need to go here.
Want to see your city on GOALHOLE? Go here