A heady combination of athletic ability, benevolent spirit and good looks make Nic Roldan—aka captain of the American polo team—one player you can't keep your eyes off. Here, Roldan fills us in on the rules of his game.
Demystify the game and culture of polo for our readers. Polo is all about intensity, speed and high energy. It’s a great spectator sport and extremely entertaining.
What are some of the misconceptions about it? NIC ROLDAN: I think probably the biggest misconception is that people think it’s more of a lifestyle than an extreme sport. They think players travel around in style all over the world and simply show up for the games. It’s quite the opposite. It takes a lot of hard work, extreme focus and dedication. Polo is an intense sport, and we are moving at 35 to 45 miles per hour. We are putting our lives on the line every time we step on the field, so we are athletes first and foremost. It takes a lot of knowledge and experience to get to where we are and to where the horses are.
Describe the moment you were bitten by the polo bug? NR: I think it was when I first started riding. I’m part of a fourth-generation polo family, so it has been ingrained in my blood. I think I had a polo mallet in my hand before I could walk.
What are some of your own personality attributes you can easily tie to the game? NR: I love high speed, high intensity. I’m a risk taker. That’s my personality. It’s all or nothing for me, so when I step onto the field, I always give my everything.
Philanthropy is a big part of your platform. What are some of the causes you feel strongly about and why? NR: I do a lot of work for pediatric cancer, with the main organization being the Kids Cancer Foundation. I’ve been touched by this cause personally as I had a few family members who were directly affected by cancer, and my best friend Brandon Phillips is a cancer survivor as well. It’s all about creating awareness and raising money for helping these families.
Is there anything about the Hamptons in particular that makes it stand out from all the other places you have played? NR: The Hamptons has always been a fun place to play, although it has been a few years since I’ve played out East. For me, the Hamptons is all about great weather, great restaurants and great nightlife. It’s the full package.
What are some of your fondest memories from the Hamptons? NR: When we used to play at the Bridgehampton Polo Club, Hamptons Saturdays were so much fun. I used to love being able to play polo in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon. My best friends all used to go out East. It’s a fun time of the year.
What games are you looking forward to this year? NR: I’m really looking forward to playing at the Southampton Polo Club on June 29 as I haven’t played out East in a few years. I also really like playing in Greenwich and Aspen. I’ll be in Aspen for the Silver Cup, which is one of the biggest tournaments in the U.S., and will be played at the 20-goal level, which is scarce in the summer. Aspen reminds me a lot of the Hamptons. Lots to do and a healthy way of life.
You travel a lot. Where is home for you? NR: Home is in Wellington, Florida. I went to school there, and a lot of my closest friends are there. But I’m a modern-day gypsy. I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe and have played in England the last several summers. Aspen is a second or third home. But I’m excited to come back to the Northeast and excited to play in our event. The life of a polo player changes year to year. I love all of the places that I visit.