Founded in 1881, Meadowbrook Polo Club (formally Meadow Brook) is the oldest polo club in America where upward of 30,000 people would attend matches regularly in the 1930s. Imagine packed Long Island Railroad trains, congested roadways with thousands of tourists, souvenir vendors and fashionable attire. This was the original equine hot-spot before the Belmont Stakes.
Location, location, location! Situated only 20 miles out of New York City, at Hitchcock Field off of Whitney Lane and Polo Drive in Old Westbury, two polo fields are staged amid the wealth of Long Island’s Gold Coast. It is a club deserving of fame with the largest mass of people center to the largest mass amount of wealth.
“It’s so prestigious that we’re trying to get more sponsors and players involved with the club,” CEO of the grounds, Bob Ceparano explained.
Several top players in the sport frequent the grounds such as Mattias Migrini, Pedro Manion and rising star Torito Ruiz, among numerous others. Though currently matches are free to the public the future of M.P.C. aims to restore its mass attraction (slowly but optimistically).
Polo remains a community game, from equine admirers, sport enthusiasts to riders alike. This Thursday, June 29th, have the chance to meet the world renowned players, sponsors and patrons of today that make Long Island polo the exceptional sport it is.
It’s hard to believe that Summer solstice is upon us. My blog 28 Days of Awesome: Find Your Local Adventure inspired a movement within myself. Though the initial blog was 28 unique things in 28 days I didn’t want to stop there. Why not try new things each season? Hell, I’m making it a blog series!
In order to make the most of 2017 I vowed to optimize each day as the seasons continue with small efforts to live life as an adventurous journey (not one we simple begrudgingly walk through). Spoiler alert: it works! I feel happier and healthier.
Here are some new things I partook in (and highly recommend you do the same):
Eating at New Restaurants, Attending Yearly Events & Trying New Free Offers From A Variety Places:
– The Cuban, Garden City, L.I.- Feel, and taste, like you’re in Little Havana. From Cuban cuisine to Latin music, this restaurant transports you on the vacation you’ve been dying to take.
– Salinas, Meatpacking District, N.Y.C.- Bienvenido a España in this beautifully decorated restaurant next door to the Highline Hotel. In the true Spanish tapas style, plates are pequeña but a variety for sharing to get a taste of everything.
– Ayhan’s Shish Kebab, Port Washington, L.I.- The original of the chain where I drank a pomegranate martini, making me feel like I was one of the Gods.
– Left Coast Kitchen, Merrick, L.I.- I bow down to the person that created this Temple Burger. A spin on the classic bagel, lox & cream cheese deluxe, but replace the bagel with latkes and add some eggs. You read that right.
– La Fondita, Amagansett, L.I.- Under the same ownership as restaurants Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall and Townline BBQ, this off-the-road location looks understated but its large personality matches the enormous flavor.
– Hampton Coffee Company, Hamptons, L.I.- I’ve never actually stopped at a brick & motor location for this coffee. Off route 27, it was an ideal pick me up.
– Kobrick Coffee, Meatpacking, N.Y.C.- In an intimate and swanky, yet surprisingly casual location, that serves an Affogato worth salivating over!
– Starbucks , All Over- I came, I bought and I loved the newly released Toasted Coconut Cold Brew.
– Douglas & James Ice Cream, Port Washington, L.I.- A quaint little parlor right on the water with a decor that makes you want to try it all!
– Carvel’s Free Cone Day, (once a year) All Over- I was the only adult on line, April 27th, but no way was I missing out! Mark your calendar for yours.
– Taste of Tuckahoe, Southampton, L.I.- This annual benefit supports local schools and provides delicious tastes from dozens of local fare!
As a self-proclaimed ‘fitness foodie’ my motto is that if you want to eat hard you have to work out even harder. As evident of the above, I had some hard work ahead of me. Listed below are some of the unique ways to keep fit:
– Glow Golf, Garden City, L.I.- It can still get chilly in Spring, so some outdoor activities remain on the back burner (like mini golf). But mention indoor, GLOW IN THE DARK mini golf and no questions needed.
– Aerial Silks, Riverhead, L.I.- I took an aerial fitness class in a hammock (what they use for aerial yoga) and became hooked. A slightly different, and more difficult, experience was the dual hanging silks! Full review here.
– Volleyball, All Over- I may be an athlete by nature but I had never played competitive beach volleyball before now. Turns out, while I certainly need practice, I’m not half bad (for a real review ask my teammates).
– Box + Flow, N.Y.C.- This summer Ruschmeyer’s kicked off #WavesandWellness. Based in NYC, Box+Flow made their east end debut with a class combining boxing & yoga. This was the best way, potentially the only way, to eagerly get me on a yoga mat. Read my review in full.
– Cryotherapy, Water Mill, L.I. & N.Y.C.- Can you stand to be in a tube filled with nitrogen gas at -250 degrees Fahrenheit? How about for 3 minutes? For the health benefits it’s entirely worth it. Read more.
Explored some new places: Some things I just stumbled into, or decided to experience for myself. In omnia paratus!
– Private Artists Exhibit, East Hampton, L.I.- Guild Hall held its 79th Artists Member Exhibition and I was fortunate to attend the initial private showing.
– Baron’s Cove, Sag Harbor, L.I.- Sitting under heat lamps on the outside deck, sipping my last whiskey cocktail of the season, it was a pleasant reminder that winter had passed and Spring was blossoming.
– Long Beach Strip, Sag Harbor, L.I.- A different Long Beach, known as Foster Memorial. A beautiful strip on the bay side.
– Democrat Point, Robert Moses Beach, L.I.- I hit a few first with this one, including watching kitesurfers!
– Long Island Welcome Center, Dix Hills, L.I.- You’ve likely seen the obnoxious, blue I <3 New York advertisement signs on every major parkway. I stopped by the newly developed L.I. Welcome Center (eastbound on the L.I.E.). With all local produce it supports the entire community and gives back to those who make this island great.
– Montauk Salt Cave, Huntington, L.I.- I couldn’t make it to Montauk but I did get to experience my first salt cave at their secondary location in Huntington. Inhale salty benefits, exhale stress.
On a more personal note, I made a conscious effort to further my career: I’ve worked hard on building my ‘Nikki on the Daily‘ brand for years. Recently, by consciously making an effort to push harder, it seems things are finally falling into place. But I wouldn’t be where I am without some help.
– Started a Fitness Column, East End, L.I.- I’ve been writing for The Independent Newspaper for several years. Currently I am perma-freelance reporting on several topics. A topic I aimed to be fluent in is fitness & have earned the weekly IndyFit column.
– Modeled LIVE on TV, N.Y.C.- When I was in the studio audience of The Wendy Williams Show, back during my 28 Days of Awesome, I was asked to potentially return for a model segment. Thanks to help of style expert, Chassie Post, I modeled in a live TV segment called Look for Less.
– Hampton’s Modeling Debut, Southampton, L.I.- The wonderful Gabby Wild and Southampton Adoption Center invited me to walk in their ethical fashion show/benefit, Catwalk for Canines. I took a step in the right direction in the gorgeous fashion lines of Marita Wrong and Pelush, with a pup up for adoption.
– Bethpage Polo at the Park,L.I.- This season, as a manager to the VIP tent on the polo grounds, I am both humbled and proud to be able to contribute to a business community I strongly believe in. Come join us on Sundays.
From my adventuress to yours, may every moment be more awesome than the last!
In 1972 the polo sex barrier was broken by a woman of disguise. After decades of posing as a man during matches, fake mustache included, the U.S. Polo Association admitted Sue Sally Hale into the ranks with its gentlemen. Hale was a pioneer, clearing the way for the fastest growing demographic in a ‘Game of Kings’- women. Decades later, in 2000, her daughter, Sunny Hale made history as well by becoming the first woman to compete on a winning team in the U.S. Open.
Step a-side-saddle, boys!
If you pay close attention to those playing on the fields of Bethpage Polo at the Park and Meadowbrook Polo Club, you’ll recognize one of its own ladies, Slaney O’Hanlon. This 24-year-old woman from Manhasset has been playing since the age of 15, after shadowing a friend who taught lessons.
“I got addicted,” O’Hanlon confessed. “I went home and told my parents that’s what I wanted to do every single day for the rest of my life.”
And she did. Her addiction created opportunities many only dream of. As a female player of today, O’Hanlon is fortunate to travel for the game she loves so much. “In February I got back from Thailand, which is probably the coolest place I’ve gotten to play…No matter where you go, polo is a small community…when you go to other places to watch you still feel like you’re in that community.”
Fortunate for polo players, the community also includes majestic animals. Depending on the day, O’Hanlon has three polo ponies of her own to choose from. Merlot, Beau and Sorpresa (surprise in Spanish). Running the area equivalent to nine footballs fields, these teammates often times represent the majority of a players game.
More than competitive mallet swinging, upon acquiring Meadowbook Polo Club, in 2016 O’Hanlon began working for Bob Ceparano, where she teaches at the polo school and helps to organize clinics
“I think [Bob’s] ideas are growing the club and the polo school…in the next few years everybody will see the growth…[Meadowbrook] can turn into the historic club it used to be.”
Meadowbrook Polo Club carries an historic significance. Back in the 1930s crowds upward of 30,000 attended matches regularly. Though it may take some time to restore an audience of such grandeur, for now we’ll be cheering on the players just the same.
One of the key reasons any of us to go watch a sport live and in person is to feel that connection to the players, to the crowd, to the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if you know the names of who’s playing, when you’re there watching a game you suddenly feel as though you make a difference. Who hasn’t screamed at the top of their lungs, almost convinced that the louder the scream the better the chance of winning? Or yelling out someone’s name as though your words of encouragement, or discouragement, will affect the athletes performance?
Polo is no different. The more familiar you are about who you’re watching, or hearing, the more involved you become. Although, being that the atmosphere is a bit more intimate, discouraging profanities are preferred to be left at the gate.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the season debut of Bethpage Polo at the Park. Now, I think it’s time to learn about some of the people that make up this fantastic sport.
Here are 3 people that YOU should know:
He’s been at the Bethpage grounds playing polo for 16 years, having started in 1999, and known me for almost just as long, being the very reason I am a part of the polo family.
What’s he think about this season?
“Every year keeps getting bigger and bigger. People seem to be enjoying the game, coming to meet the players. We see new people coming every weekend. I think it’s great for the sport.”
The thrill of the game for him is the people. Hearing the roaring crowd gives him the rush he needs. So, next time you’re in the stands or under the tents make sure you bring your outdoor voice!
Want to root for the horses too? Cristian typically rides 3 ponies: Natasha, Biminy, and Doz
At our polo grounds the best things come in 2s. In this case it’s the Vasquez brothers.
Juan has been playing polo for 25 years and is Bethpage Polo at the Park’s key referee. If you think there’s an unfair call on the field take it up with this guy!
He enjoys the comradery that comes with the sport of polo. There’s a connection between the players, the horses, the fans. These aspects all make up why he gets on the field.
Want to know more about Juan? It all comes down to the fact that he’s “Sexy, single, bi lingual, ready to mingle!”
Jerry, who I previously compared to Bob Sheppard, is the voice of Bethpage Polo at the Park.
While he has played competitively for 52 years, he and his wife Debbie (who you can find behind the camera lens every Sunday) have played for 25 years together.
Upon trading in his mallet for a microphone Jerry became the announcer for the grounds at Meadowbrook and other fields, now solely at Bethpage.
“The transformation is amazing at Bethpage Polo at the Park. [Bob] is so determined, so dedicated to bringing polo to the larger audience….once you get involved in polo there’s no way out.”
Being a part of this community for so long, having seen it go through such miraculous transformation and growth, if there’s one thing Jerry could tell all of us it’s to
“Learn that this is a game most people think of as elitist and for people with big hats, but it is so much more than that. It’s for everyone.”
He loves the people most. From the crowd to staff polo is a place of dedication to the sport and love of the game. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Next time you’re out at Bethpage Polo at the Park you’ll now recognize these 3, friendly faces. Well, 4 including myself. We look forward to seeing you there!