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CSU women’s varsity equine polo wins 1st championship in club history

Courtesy+of+Kaile+Roos+Photography
Courtesy of Kaile Roos Photography

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a lot has changed in the B.W. Pickett Arena.

The smiles are maybe a little bigger, the laughter a little louder and the same four championship banners hung together listing 1990, 1991, 1999 and 2015.

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But at second glance, it becomes apparent that the walls inside the arena yearn for more cover, for history. A banner beams 2024, but this time not for the men but for the women’s Colorado State varsity equine polo team, which defeated Grossmont College to make history as the first CSU equine polo team to win the United States Polo Association Division II Women’s National Intercollegiate Championship.

“We were just so happy to be there and to have made it to that point,” varsity member Sara Eggenberger said. “Honestly, all of us would have been happy with any sort of result just because we were all kind of in shock and awe that we had gotten there to begin with.”

While it ended picture perfect, the journey to get there was quite the opposite.

The team dealt with pouring rain and then had to wait over eight hours to play their game. They even had to move from the arena, playing on a surface that they weren’t used to playing on.

“We couldn’t hit the ball,” varsity member Willow Longerbeam said. “It was literally like sand. There were literally seashells in it.”.

That shock and awe took quite some time to subside — two weeks to be exact, or at least, that’s when the “We did it” text came from Elyse Warren to her fellow teammates.

Sometimes those moments are so big, so historic that traditional celebrations aren’t in order. The team recalled the quietness and the almost off-putting energy of the journey back home.

Eggenberger said she was almost in a bad mood, with Grace Unger, one of the team’s horse managers, going as far to call them terrors after the win — jokingly, of course, but the surreal moment remained just that.

“I was out the last (chukker), and so I was watching from the bench, and I was looking at the score,” varsity member Lily Nelson said. “I could feel it. Like, we had it, and it was really weird because afterwards, it didn’t feel real. I was like, ‘Great, let me go out and hug them. Who else do we have to play? What else do we have to do?’”

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Hanging up the banner — that’s the only thing left to check off the list.

“I honestly think that might be the moment for me,” Eggenberger said. “I am going to see (the banner) — and we’re getting our names on it too, which I think seeing our names permanently up there is when it’s really going to be like, ‘Oh, shit.'”

2024 truly was special for the team, but what created that was the love the team had for each other.

Longerbeam, Eggenberger and Nelson have been staples of the team for years, while Warren came in this season. However, the connection was instantaneous, a connection that carried the team to glory.

“I’ve been on varsity since my freshman year, and I haven’t connected with a group of girls — this is the (most) I’ve ever been like, ‘Oh, I want to play with these people,'” Longerbeam said. “These people are awesome. I want to be at practice. I want to play. I think that was a big factor in (winning). Even if we didn’t like one of (our teammates), the vibe would have been off.”

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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