American Polo Pioneer
Sue Sally Hale
Polo pioneer Sue Sally Hale is credited with breaking the gender barrier in American polo, when, after 20 years of trying, she gained membership in the sports national governing body.
By the time she had turned 11 years old she knew what she wanted to be, "a bronc buster or a polo player". The year was 1949. Unfortunately for Sue Sally, there was no organized polo for women after WWII, and women polo players weren't allowed to join the United States Polo Association (USPA). Thus began her epic journey, from swinging her polo mallet at rocks on a vacant lot, all the way to Polo's Hall of Fame.
Sue Sally began playing polo at the Riviera Polo & Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California in the late 1940s. Her chosen sport was certainly not prepared for her. She was neither wanted
"I am proof that dreams are possible." Sue Sally Hale
nor accepted, but she persevered, going where no woman had gone before. Sue Sally Hale played Sunday polo with the men, at times disguising herself as a man. Campaigning for more than 20 years to be included in the United States Polo Association (USPA), Sue Sally owned and managed a polo club, trained her own polo ponies, was a polo instructor, and played Sunday polo up and down the west coast with legendary players such as; Coulter, Conant, Atkinson, Jason, Wooten, Graber, Murray and polo Hall of Famers, Skene and Linfoot.
On January 1st of 1972, she once again mailed in her application for membership to the United States Polo Association. This time, after 20 years of trying, her unwavering hope, faith and determination, finally paid off. After more than 80 years of being a men's only organization, the USPA opened its membership to women players and admitted Sue Sally Hale as its highest rated female member. She was finally eligible to compete in officially sanctioned polo tournaments with the men. "It was largely due to her determined efforts in reapplying and writing to the USPA, the Governors reached the decision to accept women as registered players". Polo Magazine
She became the top American woman player of her era, a legend in her own time. For the next 30 years, as a pioneer and trailblazer for women in polo, Sue Sally continued to share her enthusiasm and love for the game with everyone she encountered, hoping more people would take up the sport she loved. Sue Sally pushed the boundaries of what was possible, accepted, or allowed. Criss-crossing the country, she opened doors and created opportunities for women in polo, propelling the sport forward and inspiring generations that have followed. In the process, she became "Polo's Grande Dame”.
With a career in polo that spanned more than fifty years, Sue Sally achieved many historic firsts for women in American polo, all the while mentoring and reinforcing the positive role of women as professional polo players, instructors, managers, and organizers. Named one of "20 Who Left Their Mark, A Tribute To Those Whose Unique Contributions Shaped American Polo", her accomplishments and contributions to polo were recognized next to such polo legends as: Harry Payne Whitney, James Gordon Bennett, Devereaux Milburn, Cecil Smith, Thomas Hitchcock Jr., John T Oxley, Paul Butler, Northrup Knox, Dr, William (Billy) Linfoot, and Carlton Beal.
Posthumously, Sue Sally was awarded the Iglehart Award from the Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame for her lifetime contributions to the sport of polo.
In addition to her passion for polo, Sue Sally was a competitor, instructor, and mentor in several equine disciplines, the mother of five children (Brook, Stormie, Dawn, Sunny & Trails), a volunteer fireman, an EMT, a community activist, an artist, an author, and an award-winning
"The name Hale, in polo, is not only legendary, it's sacred." Global Polo - Women in Polo