Grand Champions Polo Club Players Give Back Off The Field
For Grand Champions Polo Club players Nic Roldan and Brandon Phillips it’s not only about winning on a polo field. It’s also about giving back.
By: Sharon Robb
The longtime friends have volunteered their time for countless causes and charity events including the Kids Cancer Foundation Golf Tournament on Friday.
The annual event, in memory of Jenna McCann, will be held at the Wellington National Golf Club. The shotgun start begins 8:30 a.m. and awards luncheon at 12:30 p.m.
A field of 100 is expected to compete. All proceeds benefit the Kids Cancer Foundation. Grand Champions Polo Club is one of the event sponsors.
“Until there’s a cure, we’re going to be here providing hope and support to our young patients and families,” said Michelle O’Boyle, founder and executive director of the Kids Cancer Foundation.
For Phillips, the event hits close to home. In 1992 at 14, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given six weeks to live. After five months of treatment, he beat the odds and today is cancer-free.
“I had cancer as a kid so I think it’s my duty to start giving back and helping kids,” said Phillips, a board member for the Kids Cancer Foundation.
“It is satisfying now,” Phillips said. “For many years I stayed away because it was too emotional. Now it’s satisfying helping these kids because I know how they are feeling and what their families are going through.”
During the winter polo season in January, Phillips, who created Polo For Life, hosts Polo For A Purpose, a charity polo game benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Palm Beach chapter.
“It’s always about giving back to the community,” Phillips said. “After being sick, it’s something that you can easily hide from. The light went on that I needed to get involved and help other families and kids who are going through this.”
Roldan is Ambassador for the Royal Palm Beach-based Kids Cancer Foundation, a non-profit charity that was founded in 2001. Its’ mission is to provide hope, support and compassion to local children and families battling childhood cancer and blood disorders.
“I could do this every day,” Roldan said. “Being with these kids and parents and giving them hope is what it’s all about. Seeing them with the horses and the smiles on their faces makes your day.”
Phillips and Roldan are in the midst of playing the fall polo season at Grand Champions. Phillips (US Trust) has already won a tournament.
During the 2019 fall season, the nation’s largest polo club is hosting both medium and high goal polo featuring six medium goal tournaments and two 20-goal tournaments.
The fall season serves as a tuneup for the winter season for players and green horses. The winter season will feature the second season of the highly-successful 26-goal World Polo League at Grand Champions and Valiente Polo Farm with the best polo players in the world.
The 2019 fall season is highlighted by the International Cup featuring Team USA against France; Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial, inaugural Wellington Open 20 and USPA National 20.
The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uruguay, Switzerland, Nigeria and South Africa.
Grand Champions had its finest fall season in club history last year. It was the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal fall tournaments and again is hosting 20-goal tournaments this season.
The Grand Champions Fall Invitational League is geared toward improving a player’s polo skills at every level. Roster lineups change from tournament to tournament with evenly-matched teams featuring pro and amateur players.
Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi, both accomplished players, take pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. The husband and wife team are coming off their most successful and historical summer season at Grand Champions’ sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The fall league features: stick-and-ball sessions during the week; two tournament games every weekend; ambulance and umpires for all tournament games; world-class polo fields; club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players; and top-of-the-line trophies for all teams every weekend. Food and refreshments are available for players and fans after the finals.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater to men,
women and youth poloplayers at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program at the turnkey facility.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its’ mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV will live stream the entire fall season. ChukkerTV’s state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
2019 Grand Champions Fall Schedule
Oct. 25-27 Polo Gear Challenge
Nov. 1-3, Fall Classic
Nov. 8-10, Fall Plates
Nov. 15-17, Pedro Morrison Memorial
Nov. 16-23, Wellington Open 20
Nov. 18-27, USPA National 20
Nov. 30, Legends of Polo and Carlos Gracida Memorial
Nov. 30, 2019 International Cup, USA vs. France