Melissa Ganzi in Interview about Polo, Horses and her Passion
Melissa Ganzi made history as the first lady player to win the tournament in St. Moritz at the 35th Snow Polo World Cup 2019
How did you get started in polo?
I have been involved in the equestrian community most of my life. I grew up in pony club, evented and showed a bit, but I found my true passion in polo! In December 2000, my father-in-law Wally Ganzi, who played polo, bought me my first polo pony for my birthday and as they say, the rest is history. My family owns Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm in Wellington and Aspen Valley Polo Club in Colorado. It’s a great family sport. My husband, Marc, and our children, Grant and Riley all play and enjoy the time we spend together in the sport.
What do you enjoy about polo?
I love the family atmosphere. Not only does my entire family play, but the world’s top players all have children involved in the game. The sport is passed on from generation to generation which helps the sport thrive. Right now at Grand Champions, the world’s greatest player Adolfo Cambiaso and two of his children, Mia and Poroto, are playing in all tournament levels. There’s no greater joy than watching your children share your love of the game and passion for the horses.
What sort of physical training do you go through?
I have found when you get older and still compete at a high level, you need to listen to your body more. I’m not a kid anymore. Your body takes a beating playing in this game. I follow a stretching, training and physical therapy regimen. I love my exercise bike and I work out in the morning in our exercise room to a great view of one of the polo fields adjacent to our home.
How do you prepare before a match?
I make sure I start the day off with cold pressed celery juice and I stay hydrated throughout the day which is very important. I love to get to my game early, get settled in the players’ tent, prepare my equipment, make my horse list and talk to my grooms and teammates. I enjoy the social aspect and camaraderie among players. I check in with my vet and grooms on a regular basis. My Horses are my partner on the field and are the biggest part of the game.
How many polo ponies do you have?
Never enough. We have a breeding operation in Ocala and Santa Rita Polo Farm so I am always excited when we bring new horses into the world. We have more than 400 horses that play grass, beach, snow and arena polo. I love watching our green horses progress and move through our program to make it to the field. As I watch them I pick the ones that I believe will be future super stars. Like our young players these horses are the future of the sport.
How has the sport changed over the years you have played?
I think the sport is still evolving. I am thrilled to see so many young girls and women playing in the sport. It is the largest growing sector in polo today. I am also excited about all the new additions in the sport including the World Polo League that begins in early February. My husband Marc, Robert Jornayvaz of Valiente Polo Farm and myself co-founded the 26-goal league to fill a void and preserve the highest level of polo in the U.S. The players and fans are all excited about the new league and I am very honored to be playing for team Flexjet.
What advice do you have for the next generation, particularly for those hoping to follow in your footsteps as a polo player?
Don’t get discouraged. There are so many opportunities in the sport. We have The Polo School in Wellington and Aspen that teaches all ages and ability levels and offers scholarships. If you have a passion for horses and the sport, willing to put in the time and work, and don’t give up, you will succeed. You will have your good days and bad days, and may not get to 10 goals, the highest pinnacle of the sport, but the journey is a wonderful ride for men, women and children. I am so proud of my daughter Riley, a freshman at Georgetown University, who followed in my footsteps and now is an excellent player competing on the college level. I love being a role model for my daughter and other young girls out there who want to pursue the sport and their love of horses.
What is your philosophy?
Follow your passion and live life to its fullest. My passion happens to be horses, polo and my family. I want to give back to this sport as much as it’s given me and my family throughout the years. I want to make a difference and create opportunities for people and make the sport better. It’s not always about winning and losing. It’s leaving a legacy for people in your life and the sport, and trying to make it better than it was when you started playing.
”It was a pleasure for me to talk and interview Melissa Ganzi and speaking about the world of polo”. – Scarlett Stilling