Editorial, Interview, Player Profile

Meet your World’s Refs: Bruce Wahl

October 29, 2013

This is the beginning of a mini-series where we will be introducing you to the top notch people that slayed from the ref stand at Worlds. We will be focusing on the four refs that took us through the finals as the tournament dwindled from four courts to two. On the Republic/Origin 8 court we had Zach Blackburn and Robin Cunningham, while on the Chunk court we had Joe Rstom and Bruce Wahl. The first ref we will be introducing you to is Bruce Wahl. Poloverse, meet Bruce Wahl.

321Polo: What is your home club?
Wahl: My home club is the Mankato Blue Skunk Bike Polo Club.

321Polo: How long have you been playing bike polo?

Wahl: I’ve been playing for three years

321Polo: When was the first time you reffed at a tournament?
Wahl: The first time I officiated was at this year’s North American Championships in Minneapolis.

321Polo: What do you think of fans heckling you?
Wahl: Personally, fan heckling doesn’t bother me. It comes with the territory and my expectations are that I will be hassled in each and every match that I officiate. Just like in all sports, spectators have their bias towards a team so whether or not you make a right or wrong call, it will always and forever be scrutinized. As a referee you simply need to focus and be resolute on each and every call despite the persistent badgering from onlookers.

321Polo: Are there any major changes you hope to see in the reffing world next year?
Wahl: I believe there are many things we can do in bike polo to help facilitate a better environment for consistent officiating. One, I feel strongly that our sport needs multiple referees officiating a match. As a head referee it is extremely difficult to see everything that is going on off ball and extra sets of eyes would be paramount in catching important infractions that are potentially changing the outcome of games. A repetitive issue at Worlds was it was increasingly harder and harder to catch infractions near and around the net. With so many bicycles stacked within that area that I feel goal judges need to be trained referees with the capability to blow a play dead and make a call which would be hard or almost impossible for the head referee to see. So in a perfect world I think a match of bike polo needs a referee crew of at least 4 to 5 officials. There are also things within the rule set that I would like to see changed to make our jobs as referees easier but that’s another can of worms for another day. Ultimately, I would also like to see the referees get compensated for their time. I realize our sport isn’t gushing with money but if you want an individual to be dedicated to something that is demanding as officiating, you need to pay them. Personally, I enjoy officiating bike polo but I would much rather be enjoying a beverage and cheering on the teams when I travel to beautiful places such as Minneapolis or Florida. Make it worth my while to referee a game because I’m missing out on being a fan which I was first and foremost before I picked up the whistle. The final thing I would like to see in the referee world is more participation. More referees will lead to better play across the country at local tournaments and qualifiers, which in turn will create a better brand of clean, beautiful bike polo.


The Best and Worst of Worlds 2013

October 25, 2013

Worst #3: Lack of Food












I felt that the World’s organizers did an amazing job setting up, running and maintaining the tournament. The shuttles to and from the court and airport were a perfect touch that amateur organizers would have just over looked. It made it easy and cost efficient for players stay with their friends and get to and from the court. But the one area where the organizers fell through was with food. For a tournament without food in biking distance (and no, a concession stand does not count), the organizers should have budgeted and arranged to feed the players. Donuts and coffee were a nice morning treat but it doesn’t sustain throughout the day. Just a note for next year’s major tournament organizers, make sure you feed the players!

Worst #2: Fighting












One reason that I fell in love with hardcourt bike polo had to do with the fact that it seemed like the punk rock of sports. The sport seemed to push for punk rock ideals like unity and community, and it checked all jock-bro attitudes at the door. For this reason, it disappoints me to see this side of the players come out on the court. At Worlds I can recall three fights/near fights, and that is three too many for hardcourt bike polo. I understand that this is an intense sport and all of the players let their emotions run while fighting to win, but that’s not an excuse to punch someone, get off your bike and shove someone, or anything else of the alike. If you want to play a sport where being a jock is cool, take up adult softball or MMA.
Worst #1: Volunteers









I completely understand the lack of volunteers for the Wild Card. Most of the main tournament players were at the beach, on fan boat rides, doing bathsalts, or whatever else one typically does while in Florida. I understand not wanting to attend an extra day at the courts while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation. Where I start to get confused is with the morning bracket of the first day of the main tournament. Several of the afternoon bracket teams showed up early to watch their competition and several of the Wild Cards teams that didn’t make it were in attendance, yet that morning bracket went two hours + over time because no one would step up and help out. This is a sport for and by us, and without everyone taking 20 minutes of their time to goal judge, time keep, etc. for a couple games, then we will continue to have afternoon brackets games get cut off and restart the next day. STAND UP AND HELP OUT!

Best #3: Volunteers









With all of our disappointment in the lack of volunteers, we are ever grateful and truly impressed with those that did help out. Jerod Walz, Chandel Bodner, Danny Wood, Britt Willey, Zach Blackburn, Bruce Wahl, Joe Rstom, Max Power, Charley Berry, Brandon Carter, Donnie Pepper, Jordan Bailey, Matt Kabik, Nic B, Meg Lee, Megan Mazzei, Robin Cunningham, and others that are escaping my brain right now. All of these people deserve emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, texts, etc. thanking them for being awesome and putting in a lot of their free time to help make the 2013 World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship run smoothly. From 321Polo, Thank you all so much! You all made this the most amazing World’s yet!

Best #2: GATOR BEES!









If you’re allergic to bee stings, then you will probably disagree with me on this one, but Gator Bees is one of the most badass (yes, I still use badass as an adjective) I’ve ever heard of. I remember when Chandel made the announcment to stay away from the Gator Bees. I was on the court getting ready to play a game and she could barely get the sentence out of her mouth without cracking up. Walking around the tournament, I heard so many people talking about the Gator Bees. The imagery in my head for Gator Bees is never ending, and I hope to see several teams in the coming season to be named Gator Bees. It’s such a fun phrase to say in a hick accent, so announcers at any tournament will have fun with that one.

Best #1: The Austrailians











I feel in love with Ollie Wykeham after the 2012 Worlds in Geneva. And shortly afterwards, I feel in love with Ned and Scotty from the Australian championship team Not A Single Fuck Given. All of these guys know how to make polo fun. These are the guys you will see partying later than you, partying harder than you, and then get on the court and beat your team the next day. And after they beat you, they will give you a hug and be your best friends. These are the people that I was most looking forward to seeing again at this tournament and the ones that I most look forward to seeing again soon. I know I’m not the only one  who feels this way, either. I’ve seen several Facebook statuses and Instagram pictures where people express the impact that these three, and all of the other Australians, had on their trip. Thank you all for the Edison’s chant that is forever in our brains. Thank you all for being amazing people.

(Thank you to ILIKEMAX, ButtCrackJenny, MakeItADeal, TP6017, ddubddub, and tomlinhood for photos)


The Amazing Beavers

October 24, 2013


What do you get when you mix bike polo, the teamwork of 1992 Dream Team, the shooting accuracy of an early 2000s Tiger Woods, and the synchronicity of migrating Canadian geese? You get Joey Halvorsen, Eric Kremin, and Brian Dillman in the manifestation known as The Beavers. After watching them nearly flawlessly dominate the North Americans, I knew that at the end of the WHBPC2013, that this would be the Year of the Beaver.

Check out this great highlight reel that Mr. Do threw together of our 2013 World Champions.


Follow us on Instagram!

October 14, 2013


After months of training from my girlfriend, I’m ready to join the Instagram world. What better time to become part of Instagram than just before traveling to Florida for the 2013 World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship. I will be Instagraming the entirety of my travels to and from Portland, OR. Beautiful beaches, alligators, polo all-stars, Hawaiian t-shirts and so much!

Follow Official321Polo to catch all the best images! See you on the Grams!

Editorial, Tournaments

We Want a Live Worlds!

October 11, 2013


I know I do!

As of right now, the gracious Mr. Do and his stream team will be bringing the WHBPC to computers and TVs around the world on Friday and Saturday. While this is going to be when the most intense action is, I know polo players and families around the world would love more. The Worlds organizers want to make sure that everyone watching the live coverage feels completely full at the end of the week.

The 2013 WHBPC organizers have started an online fundraising campaign to help ensure that no one misses a single minute of polo action. With the help of our donations, they are looking to live stream the Wild Card, the first day of the tournament and the first every Ladies Bench tournament. Not only are they looking to bring us complete live coverage, but they want to record EVERY game during the tournament. EVERY GAME! Every game on every court on every day! That is a lot of memory cards that they need to buy, and to buy these they need our help.

It is our duty as particles of the poloverse to make sure that the largest tournament in the sport runs at its utmost potential. Until we get major sponsors, like Chase or Staples or Taco bell, these tournaments run on our blood.

To help, head over to the YouCaring website HERE!