What's Large, Gray and Likes to Play Polo?
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The posting on Craigslist went like this:
Join the DC Elephant Polo Team as we go to Thailand for the 2006 Kings Cup Elephant Polo Championships! . . . No previous polo experience is necessary .
Many responded. Some were curious, others incredulous. But two were willing to saddle up with intelligence analyst Kimberly Zenz, the team's 29-year-old founder and captain, and her boyfriend and sister.
In two weeks, they will journey to Hua Hin, Thailand. When the opening gong sounds, they'll find themselves playing polo on elephants for the first time.
They are the first U.S. team to enter the six-day tournament, one of three majors on the circuit. (The others are in Sri Lanka and Nepal.)
Theirs also appears to be the only organized elephant polo team in the Americas.
And last weekend, the fate of an entire hemisphere on their shoulders, the D.C. Elephant Polo Team had its first practice, running around with homemade eight-foot-long bamboo mallets in a back yard in Alexandria.
One jumbo problem: The elephants are in Asia.
So all the teammates could do was bat a ball around and wave mallets -- while standing on part of a swing set and an electrical utility box to simulate an elephant's height.
"It's funny how you're playing polo, and I'm playing croquet," said Susie Nguyen, a self-employed translator, to Zenz as they stumbled around each other, chasing the hard plastic ball.
Yes, America, your team has scant polo experience.
And scrimmages in flip-flops.