This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
On Thursday nights, Maya Johnson can be found getting her horse geared up for a game of polocrosse. Johnson first heard of the team sport — a combination of polo and lacrosse — when she was riding on the equestrian team at Dartmouth College.
Johnson returned to Alaska several years ago, bringing the sport with her.
Her former riding instructor and director of riding at Dartmouth, Sally Batton, quite literally wrote the book on polocrosse. She visits Alaska once a year, offering polocrosse clinics for people like Johnson, who are passionate about the sport.
“She started teaching our group up here and everyone got pretty into it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said there are also polocrosse groups in Homer and Anchorage.
“We haven’t actually played them, but that’s our goal,” Johnson said.
In polocrosse, there are three people and horses on a team. Similar to soccer, one teammate takes offense, the other defense and another plays the midfield. Instead of lacrosse rackets, the sport has specially made rackets with a small netted basket, used for scooping up the ball from the ground.
The horse community is pretty small on the central peninsula, Johnson said.
“We pretty much all know each other,” Johnson.
On Thursday night, several people came out to play. Johnson said the group who comes to play is getting bigger.
“It gets really competitive,” Johnson said. “I like seeing everyone laughing and trying to push everyone out of the way.”
Johnson coordinates her Thursday games at Ridgeway Farms, where the riding arena almost meets exact regulation size.
Abby Ala, owner of Ridgeway Farms and Johnson’s grandma, said polocrosse is an accessible sport for anyone who enjoys riding.
“This is a poor man’s polo,” Ala said. “It’s fun. You don’t have to have a ton of money. You don’t have to have a lot of experience. You can be really young and do it and you can be older and do it.”
Johnson said residents interested in learning more about the sport can contact her via the Kenai Polocrosse Facebook Group.