What do you get when you take two traditional sports and combine them? For one New Albany resident, you have a sport quickly generating interest, not only in Union County, but the Deep South.
Kayla Pablic has long had a love for horses. While living in Pennsylvania as a young child, Pablic joined the local Pony Club with one of her friends. It was in this club that she learned of a sport, a discipline that would soon become her passion.
Polocrosse is a sport that combines polo and lacrosse, pretty much polo with a net, as Pablic described. Each team consists of three team members, with one focusing on scoring and the other two defending and creating havoc for the scorer. Started in 1938 in Australia, the sport has grown interest in the United States, with several teams and organizations now in existence. Pablic has played since she was eight, and now at 13 and living in a new area, she hopes to generate interest in the sport.
“When we first moved here from Pennsylvania, we were in Collierville because my sister has a horse farm in Mt. Pleasant, Miss., and we got some people interested in polocrosse there,” Kayla’s mother, Dawn Pablic said. “ We have a local chapter of the United Polocrosse Association, and it’s for the Memphis area. She’s taught a lot of people about polocrosse, and we just took the two players from Tupelo to a tournament in Huntsville a couple weeks ago.”
“I love everything about it,” Pablic said. “Horses are my favorite animal, and I play softball, so I have hand-eye coordination. I love the adrenaline rush. It’s just one big adrenaline rush, and I just love everything about it.”
Pablic has taught many people at her aunt’s farm, and even recruited some potential new players while in a horse jumping competition in Louisiana last month.
“She did spark a lot of interest there, so we have about 15 people from the Louisiana, Mississippi, deep south region,” Dawn said of her daughter’s efforts.
If anyone is to work on recruitment, Pablic is the girl for the job, as she has had success in recently. Besides the recent camp and tournament in Huntsville, she competed at the Pony Club Nationals in Lexington, Virginia two weeks ago, and her team finished in fourth place. Pablic is also a member of the USA under 17 Polocrosse team, joining the group of 16 total. The group will have the opportunity to compete next summer in the sport’s origin country, Australia, which does not bother Pablic since she is an avid traveler.
“I love to travel,” Pablic said. “I’ve been to the whole east coast, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama. I’ve never been to the West Coast though.”
As if her work in polocrosse is not enough, the NAHS freshman is also a member of the softball and soccer squads, as well as the ROTC, where she hopes to be a member of the Drill and Air Rifle teams.
“It’s hectic. Most of the time I leave my riding boots, my cleats and my ROTC shoes in the truck, and my mom will say ‘Ok, get in the truck, it’s time to go to practice,’ and I don’t know what practice we’re going to until we get there, then I put my shoes on,” Pablic laughed.
Pablic will continue to keep busy with polocrosse, as she plans to host a clinic at her aunt’s farm in November, as well as traveling to St. Louis to participate in the American Polocrosse Association Nationals in October. One hope for Pablic is that word will spread of the sport, and more people will become interested, hopefully forming a local team.
“I just tell people to watch the sport, look it up on YouTube,” Pablic said. “It’s really cool when you watch it played, and that usually gets people going and they’ll ask when they can try it. We don’t have enough people to actually hold practices right now, so that’s what we’re trying to do. We would like to have enough people to hold practices.”
Until more interest forms in the area, Pablic will continue to travel, which is a neat aspect to the sport. No matter where she travels to play, someone always has a horse and a place for her to play.
“It’s a close knit family, so you can go pretty much anywhere and find a horse to ride and a team to ride on,” Dawn said. “You’re very versatile, because you learn how to play every position, and they’re cut throat on the field. They push each other out of bounds and try to get the ball out of the racket, and they play hard on the field. She usually come off the field with bloody knuckles. Once they all come off the field, they’re all laughing, and sometimes they’re like that on the field.”
All joking aside, Pablic has not suffered any serious injuries, though there is always the threat.
“I’ve knocked myself off a horse,” Pablic laughed. “Probably two weeks ago was the worst I’ve had, as I fell hard enough to crack my helmet, but it still wasn’t bad.”
Looking at the future for the young rider, Pablic hopes to see the sport reach the Olympic level, as it is now only a World Cup sport, but it is the little things that matter at the moment.
“I’m just trying to get polocrosse started down here, so I can play with a team,” Pablic said. “You have to build up to the big goals.”