It’s 2 p.m. on a weekday afternoon, and while most Harvard students are finishing afternoon classes for the day, the Harvard Polo Club loads up in a van and makes the hour-long trek to Ipswich, Mass., for an afternoon of intense training and horsemanship.
“[I love] getting that time away from campus,” said junior men’s polo captain Shawn DeMartino.
Well outside the Boston city limits, the team trains under the close eye of coach and Harvard alum Crocker Snow ’61, who has witnessed firsthand the reestablishment of the polo program at his alma mater over the past six years.
The resurgence of Harvard polo can largely be attributed to the efforts of Snow and his family, who have helped spearhead efforts to reinvigorate the once obsolete program. The Snow family has deep ties to the sport, as Snow himself was an accomplished amateur player. His wife Cissie was once considered one of the top American professional players, and three of his five sons play professionally.
“[Crocker] is probably one of the most interesting guys I know,” DeMartino said.
Now at the helm of the program alongside his wife, Snow works to bring his knowledge and love of polo to the Crimson students who take to the game each year.
REKINDLING AN OLD FLAME
According to Snow, the Harvard Polo Club—initially founded in 1882—is the oldest intercollegiate polo club in the country. But the club has drifted in and out of existence since its inception.
“It’s been up and down for a long, long time,” Snow said. “There were a lot of times when there was really no team at all.”
As a student at the College, Snow was a member of the varsity men’s hockey team. At the time, there was no official polo club at Harvard. But as an experienced rider, Snow cultivated his interest in the sport during his undergraduate years.
Though the Harvard team was never officially established, Snow and three or four of his friends travelled to other schools with instituted programs to play away games, often on borrowed horses.
After graduation, Snow travelled all over the world as a foreign correspondent, but amidst his busy travel schedule, he continued to play recreational polo overseas, developing into an accomplished amateur player.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Despite the enthusiasm of Snow and his peers over four decades ago, the Harvard polo program was never revived until much more recently in 2006.
At the time, Snow’s fourth son, Nick Snow ’09, was a student at Harvard and, following in the footsteps of his father, a member of the varsity hockey squad. But during his sophomore year, the younger Snow decided to quit the team. Having taken up the sport in his early teenage years, the sophomore was an accomplished polo player, and he began investigating the possibility of resurrecting the Harvard Polo Club once again.