Off the Record (OTR)

OTR Exclusive: Polo star Nic Roldan

OTR recently had a chance to chat with international polo star Nic Roldan. We lament the fact that we rarely get to watch matches, mainly because of the lack of television access here in the United States. But, the more we heard Nic talk about it, the more we really want to watch it. It’s fast and brutal…just our kind of sport. Let’s chat with Nic:

Micah: What is it about polo that you love?

Nic: I’ve had a passion for horses my whole life and I grew up on a farm riding them every day. My father was a professional polo player and his father was a professional polo player. It’s just always been a part of my life. Always been a sports fanatic. The only thing I’ve ever really done is play sports. And the polo brings out that intensity and adrenaline, you know, the speed. It’s just a great sport all around.

Micah: Are you familiar with the Work to Ride program (side note: this is a program that gets inner-city kids involved with the sport of polo…and they are really freakin’ good at it)? Those Philly kids are pretty good, huh?

Nic: Yeah, yeah they’re really good. And they’re just getting better. They’re doing a great job.

Micah: What do you think of programs like that?

Nic: I think it’s amazing. Riding has been known to…they’ve used riding therapeutically. And they’ve used it as a form of therapy for a lot of challenged or less fortunate kids. It’s a great way to get them off the streets and doing something fun and something they love.

Micah: So, you think that’s the best way to grow the sport in this country?

Nic: I don’t know that it’s the best way, but I think it’s a great way.

Micah: What else can be done to grow the sport?

Nic: I think education. I think educating the public about the sport. No one really knows about it. People think it’s an elite sport only for the rich and famous, and it really isn’t. Anyone can play. There are academies all over the United States where anyone who is interested in riding or playing polo can do it for not an expensive price. I think educating the masses about it is very important.

Micah: Any other misconceptions about the sport that bug you?

Nic: Yeah. People think of this as a lifestyle and it’s not; it’s a sport. I think it’s an extreme sport. I’ve played every sport known to man; I’ve done everything. This is definitely beyond any other sport that I’ve played. We have to be in unbelievable shape. And that’s the biggest misconception. They think of it as a lifestyle, as some big party. It’s a job, it’s a sport and there are leagues all over the world.

Micah: It’s also a very dangerous sport, correct?

Nic: Yeah, it’s one of the most dangerous. We put our lives on the line every day. There are casualties, you know? It’s up there with Formula 1 or NASCAR as one of the most dangerous sports in the world.

Micah: There is always the chance you could fall off a horse and get trampled.

Nic: Well, we’re traveling 35-40 m.p.h. and it’s like ice hockey on horses where you’re bumping and checking on a thoroughbred that has a mind of its own going 35-40 m.p.h. You know, horses go down, it’s happened. We’ve been rolled over and there have been fatalities. That’s just the way it is. It’s very intense.

Micah: I’d like to watch it on television, where can I do that?

Nic: That’s the big jump that we need to break out. We still don’t have film production crews that do a good enough job filming it. Because it’s such a wide field, such a big field, there is so much ground to be covered. And we need to have a certain amount of cameras to cover it well. If you ever go on the Argentine ESPN, they film the Argentine Open, which is the most important tournament in the world. They do an amazing job and you can really get an idea of how quick it is, they do an amazing job. But it’s a great spectator sport, people love to watch it.

Micah: What other sports have you played in the past?

Nic: Golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, I surf, I bike. I do everything. I played a lot of ice hockey. If I didn’t go pro in polo I’d have played ice hockey.

You can read our Quick Questions segment with Nic right here.

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