Cooling Out With ... Wade Liner
A native of Greenville, S.C., Wade Liner says he gets more of a rush playing polocrosse than he ever did as a shortstop and pitcher for the Wake Forest University baseball team from 1984-88.
“We were awful,” said Liner, vice president of the Carolina Polocrosse Club. “They’ve been much better since I’ve been gone.”
Liner, an insulation contractor, lives in Whispering Pines with his wife, Ceci (an algebra and Latin teacher at The O’Neal School), and two children, Crawford, 15, and Kat, 12, both up-and-coming polocrosse players.
Last weekend, Wade, Crawford and Kat played together on a “C” grade team at the American Polocrosse Association’s Eastern Zone Championships at the Pinehurst Harness Track polo fields. The Carolina Green team came in second to a team from Florida.
Played on horseback with a racket similar to a lacrosse stick and a soft rubber ball, polocrosse requires a rider to play off the same horse for the entire weekend of competition.
“We really have to take care of them, so you wind up seeing a lot of older horses out on the field,” Liner said. “I’ve heard of a 30-year-old horse that’s still playing.”
Q: Did you grow up riding?
A: I grew up riding a lot in Greenville … western pleasure, mostly. Then my priorities changed and I didn’t ride much from 23 to about 40. Once Kat got involved in polocrosse, I said, “You know what? I really miss it.”
Q: When did you become involved with polocrosse?
A: I volunteered to work a Pony Club polocrosse rally two-and-a-half years ago. I sat in the scorer’s tent all day on a Saturday and was amazed at the ability of the horses and the fun the players were having. I thought, I miss riding, I’m competitive enough, I think I want to do that.
Q: And now you’re totally immersed in it.
A: It’s really a family sport. At tournaments you get to see people you’ve seen at other tournaments, and it’s like the carnival rolled into town. The horses love to compete as much as we do … they really enjoy the competition whether it’s a new horse learning or an experienced horse. I have an old mare who just loves to run and spin. It’s fun for me just to ride along.
Q: Does the whole family play?
A: Kat’s probably played for four years. I’m in my second year and Crawford is in his first full year. Ceci hunts and trail rides.
Q: Did the kids learn to ride here?
A: Yes. Kat took her very first lesson with Beth Younger and continues to take three lessons a week with Beth.
Q: What are the rules of polocrosse?
A: There are two teams of six players; the positions are 1, 2 and 3, with three players on the field at one time. The 1 player is the only one allowed into the scoring area except the 3 for the opposing team, who is the defender. Possession takes place in the center field area.
Q: How long have you been with the Carolina team?
A: About two years. I’m the vice president now. This past December I was elected Eastern Zone rep to the American Polocrosse Association.
Q: How many members does the Carolina club have?
A: We have 75 members. We had 42 players in the tournament.
Q: Where have you traveled for tournaments?
A: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, of course.
Q: How many horses in the family? Are they all polocrosse horses?
A: We have six: four thoroughbreds and two quarter horses. My polocrosse horse is Lilly, and she’s a 22-year-old retired racehorse. She’s got the mind and body of a 4-year-old! And we have Kat’s horse Posh, who’s an icon as far as polocrosse is concerned … she’s been a polocrosse horse for 10 to 12 years and has her own website (http://poshsfanclub.shutterfly.com). She knows the game better than any of us do. She’s the only horse from the East Coast to win Horse of the Year (in 2003).
Pilar is Crawford’s horse. She’s a retired racehorse from Texas and has been doing polocrosse for many years. We got her last October when he started taking it seriously … we were looking for a horse that wouldn’t kill him! She has her quirks but she is just mush with him.
We also have Sir Piney Four Sox, who’s a great eventer and dressage horse. My wife’s horse, This Bid’s For You, came from CANTER (thoroughbred racehorse rescue). He was on the fast track for eventing but two vets found he had flattening of his cannon bones so he couldn’t jump consistently. And the newest addition is J. Lo. She’s a retired polo pony who just played last weekend in an “A” grade match. She’s a player.
Oh, and I can’t forget Gabby. We also have a Connemara pony who is leased out right now. She hunts, polocrosses, events, does dressage. She’s 22 or 24.
Q: That’s a lot of mares.
A: The mares really like to please, so they seem to be better polocrosse horses. There seem to be more of them available, too.
Q: How did you wind up playing on the same team with your kids in the tournament?
A: It was interesting … we had to pull a couple of strings to make it happen. We came in second to Charlie Horse (Florida) in the “C” grade game. Normally I play “B”grade but I dropped down to play with them.
Q: When did Crawford start playing?
A: Just about a year ago. He’s a growing 15-year-old; he went from 5-foot-11 to 6-3 in two months! He has great hand-eye coordination.
Q: If someone was interested in trying polocrosse, how would they go about doing it?
A: They can contact me or David Thornton (president of Carolina Polocrosse Club). We practice every two weeks; most practices are at the Harness Track in Pinehurst. We’d be happy to work out a horse and have extra balls and rackets.
Wade Liner can be reached via email at WadeL@Insulatinginc.com. For more information on the sport or to follow the Carolina team, visit their website at www.carolinapolocrosse.org
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