New breed of polo players ride bikes, not horses

Polo is an evolving sport.

Riders first began playing on horseback on a grass field, and then bike riders took up the sport. Now they take their bikes to a concrete court, and they do it in Everett.

The Everett Bike Polo Club is only about eight players strong, but they’re an eager eight.

They meet twice a week throughout most of the year and without much regard for weather.

The club started last summer when two players began looking for a club closer to home.

“It was like a little love story,” said Jeremy Canaria, one the club’s founders, who started playing in Pullman.

Co-founder Jared Kalinski began the sport in Seattle.

They both live in Everett, but connected through sport message boards and email lists.

That, Kalinski said, is how most of the sport is run, by players reaching out and forming clubs.

“Bike polo is rapidly gaining popularity and solidifying into an actual sport,” he said. “It’s all about people stepping up to the plate to progress the sport further.”

And that’s what they did.

Canaria and Kalinski made fliers and formed a Facebook group, trying to spread the word about the new club.

They moved around a bit before finding a home at Everett’s Garfield Park tennis courts, where they meet at 5 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.

Hard-court bike polo is played with two teams of three.

Players maneuver around the concrete court, swinging mallets at rubber balls toward their goal nets.

It takes a lot of coordination and focus, Canaria said, but the game’s not very heavy on rules.

“The only rules, simply stated, are that you can’t put your feet down, and shots have to be hit off of the business end of the mallet,” Kalinski said.

The most common penalty is for touching the ground; for that you have to “dab out,” or ride out and touch the edge of the court before returning to the game.

There is some contact, but at the Everett club, they try to take it easy.

“It’s really a gentleman’s sport,” Kalinski said. “You don’t want to be a jerk and just take someone out; you play with finesse.”

Some clubs can get too competitive and the games can be intimidating, Canaria said, but they’re patient with newcomers at Garfield Park.

Most of the group’s regular players are fairly new to the sport. Their ages range from teens to early 40s.

“We drop down to their level of play; we try to pass the ball and get new people involved as much as possible,” Kalinski said, “We want people to come out and have fun.”

They have about five bikes that first-time players can borrow, as well as equipment.

“All they really need is to bring a helmet,” Canaria said.

Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; astewart@heraldnet.com.

Join the club

To play bike polo with the Everett club just show up at the park at 5 p.m. Mondays and Thursday and join in on a game, or contact the club leaders through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EverettBikePolo.

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