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Tennessee Valley team takes first place at national polocrosse meet

MADISON – Tennessee Valley Polocrosse Club members showed their strength and skill with first place in national competition.

The Tennessee Valley Polocrosse team placed first among teams at a national meet in Pine Hurst, N.C. (CONTRIBUTED)
The Tennessee Valley Polocrosse team placed first among teams at a national meet in Pine Hurst, N.C. (CONTRIBUTED)

Emily Bohatch, Sydney Burch, Kelly Fisk, Tyler Hamlin, Janelle Palmer and Glen Roberts competed with teams from across the country in Pine Hurst, N.C. on Oct. 4. Their team captured first place over five teams in C Division.

Bohatch and Burch are students at Bob Jones High School. The others live in Huntsville and Decatur.  This club practices weekly year-round.

Overall, 29 teams competed with more than 140 players for all divisions. “Players came from North Carolina, Minnesota, Florida, Maryland, Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Virginia, Mobile and Huntsville,” Jeanne Burch, Sydney’s mother, said.

“Polocrosse is a fast equestrian sport  … like lacrosse on horseback,” Burch said. A defender, midfielder and forward from each team take the field. To score a point, players throw the ball from the racket through the goal’s uprights.

Dust flies during a polocrosse tournament earlier this year. Emily Bohatch and Sydney Burch of Madison are Tennessee Valley Polocrosse Club members. (CONTRIBUTED)
Dust flies during a polocrosse tournament earlier this year. Emily Bohatch and Sydney Burch of Madison are Tennessee Valley Polocrosse Club members. (CONTRIBUTED)

In polocrosse, playing level depends on the individual’s skill level; age and gender don’t matter. The Tennessee Valley team has two teenagers, two in their twenties and one older adult.

Fisk rides Tricky, Hamlin rides Sham and Bohatch rides Queso; they own their horses. Burch leases her horse, while Palmer and Roberts ride horses owned by Barbara Fisk. Queso lives on the Bohatch property in Owens Crossroads, while the others are stabled at Fisk’s barn.

“Sydney began taking lessons in first grade and started jumping in fourth grade at Belle Mina Stables,” Burch said. “Kelly Fisk conducted a clinic for Cedar Knob Pony Club and coached their team in their first tournament 2.5 years ago.”

As a parent, Burch admits polocrosse is a dangerous sport. “Most equestrian sports are inherently dangerous. In polocrosse, you have six horses and riders galloping up and down a 160-yard field making sudden stops, sharp turns and fighting for the ball, which can be on the ground or in the air.”

Luckily, polocrosse rules emphasize safety. “The cleaner the play, the less likely players or horses are to get hurt,” Burch said.

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