A thrilling polo game kicked off the Inaugural Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party at The Wanderers Club benefitting Brooke USA. Roldan, rated at 8 goals, led the Brooke USA Grey team to a 6-5 victory over Brooke USA Orange, captained by 6-goaler Kris Kampsen. Brandon Phillips (5), Timmy Dutta (0) and Ricky Mershad (0) rounded out the orange team. Justin Daniels (1), Grant Ganzi (1) and Henry Porter (1) completed the grey team.
Before the game began a moment of silence was observed in memory of recently deceased polo player Bob Daniels, whose son played on the winning team. Roldan has longtime family ties to Bob Daniels. His father, Raul Roldan, played and worked for Daniels for 30 years. Nic Roldan also played many years with Daniels, reaching the 1999 U.S. Open final together as Pony Express.
The Brooke USA match was anyone’s game from start to finish, with the score frequently tied or fluctuating back and forth with a tight spread. Both teams showed amazing teamwork throughout. Daniels made the first goal of the day on an open back shot and followed up in the next chukka with a three-quarter neck shot that sailed straight through the goal posts. In the second chukka Mershad brought the orange team to a three-point lead, with all three of his teammates assisting on the goal. Sixteen-year-old Porter made two back-to-back goals in the third chukka, tying the game at 4. In the fourth he scored again with a full-field run. Mershad made the final goal.
“I always enjoy playing in charity games, but this one was amazing,” said Kampsen. “Nic did an awesome job organizing this event for Brooke USA by incorporating some of these really talented young players we have. It was so much fun!”
For Roldan, it was clearly a labor of love. “Our goal was to create as much awareness as possible in the community about Brooke USA’s efforts. It’s a good cause, and it’s close to our hearts because we love equines,” he said. Roldan extended his thanks to the event hosts, Katherine and Mark Bellissimo, who he said “went above and beyond” by providing the magnificent venue at The Wanderers Club and donating food and other amenities.
Polo Gear donated the team jerseys, as well as custom saddlebags worn by miniature horses and donkeys that walked along the sidelines collecting cash donations for Brooke USA. Roldan, who came up with the idea to include the furry ambassadors, borrowed the mini-equines from his friends.
Brooke USA Executive Director Emily Marquez-Dulin and board member Jim Wolf presented the trophy to the winning team. The Best Playing Pony award, presented by Gil Johnston, went to Dallas, played by Phillips in the fourth chukker. Porter, the high-scorer in the game, was named Most Valuable Player.
Teeming with spectators, the sidelines were abuzz about the next Nic Roldan’s Sun-set Polo & White Party, which is slated to return to Wellington in 2017.
Roldan is an official ambassador for Brooke USA, the American fundraising arm of the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, the Brooke. Brooke USA is dedicated to improving the lives of equines around the world, providing veterinary care, education, and resources to care for working horses, donkeys, and mules. Brooke USA supports the work of the The Brooke and has traveled to some of the most impoverished areas around the world for the last 80 years, helping over 1.8 million equines and over 10 million needy people who rely on these animals.