ON THE FARM WITH AUGUSTA CO-OP: POLO, A SOPHISTICATED SPORT, AIMS FOR BROAD APPEAL
With years of playing and coaching polo, Lou Lopez starts each day welcoming students on the UVa Polo Farm. As General Manager & Head Coach of the Virginia Polo Center in Charlottesville, each day brings new faces and new experiences.
Growing up in the Northeast and studying agriculture at Colorado State University, Mr. Lopez's love for horses, education and agriculture runs deep. Lou began his professional career as an agriculture educator and followed his passion to becoming UVa's polo coach 14 years ago. "Polo is a huge part of my life and always will be", said Lou. A genuine quote, after starting numerous polo clubs throughout the country and winning 8 national collegiate titles.
The Virginia Polo Center is a 75 acre facility that provides University of Virginia students, both men and women, an affordable opportunity to experience the sport of polo. Additionally, in the summer months, Virginia Polo offers polo lessons for all ages and riding skill levels.
In keeping with the philosophy of the founders, Virginia Polo strives to instill in every student the merits of responsibility, hard work and dedication. In return, the students reap the rewards of fellowship, teamwork and have an opportunity to compete in an intercollegiate sport at the national level. These valuable lessons endure throughout their personal and professional lives long after college. Virginia Polo is a student run organization in which all members share responsibility equally and the Board of Directors is dedicated to providing sound management and financial support for the 55 horses and 42 polo riders. Virginia Polo is not supported by the University of Virginia and relies primarily on outside financial sources throughout the year.
With a strong mission, comes great leadership. Both elected and volunteer leaders of the polo center are continuously finding ways to improve its facility, riders and horses. Top notch instructors, superior equine management protocols, quality horses and industry leading equine nutrition are all some of the focus each day.
The future of Virginia Polo is bright. Lou, the Board of Directors and staff continue to build the program both off and on the field. Most recently, the polo center received a large donation to build a new facility. The facility will be called the Beh House and will serve to host polo teams in the near future, including the high school polo nationals this coming April.
"The Virginia Polo Center is a testament of a successful polo facility. Not only successful horsemen and equine enthusiasts, they are dedicated to investing in their animals, people and local community," said Daniel Phillips, Assistant General Manager of Augusta Cooperative Farm Bureau, Inc. Augusta Co-op is proud to provide quality equine feed to the Virginia Polo Center.
To help support the Virginia Polo Center, contact Lou Lopez at (434)979-0293.