Editor’s note: This story also appears in the April edition of Park Cities People.
Vaughn Miller thinks the sport of polo gets a bad rap.
The Highland Park resident is trying a more grassroots approach to spreading the popularity of a sport known for its royal roots and country-club reputation. He wants to open the game up to children, and to those families who might not own a stable full of horses.
That’s one reason why, in 2008, after more than a decade playing regularly at other clubs throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Miller founded Prestonwood Polo Club, located in the community of Oak Point, just north of Lewisville Lake near Little Elm.
“We wanted to be accessible to everyone. Polo has this reputation as an elitist sport,” Miller said. “We knew we had something special and wanted to build on that.”
Two years later, he started a youth camp with the help of a grant from the United States Polo Association. He said the summer program so far has hosted about 24 kids, who are provided with equipment and an equine partner.
Miller traces his love for polo back more than 20 years. He one played alongside Prince Charles of Wales in a charity match overseas, and even met his wife at a match.
He has passed that passion along to his two sons, Vaughn Jr., 14, and Vance, 13, who comprise two-thirds of Prestonwood’s youth select team that has become nationally recognized. The third is Ronnie Puente, who attends Little Elm High School.
“They both fell in love with the sport and became good at it,” said Miller, who also coaches a women’s club team at TCU.
The Prestonwood varsity team began competing at the USPA Open National Interscholastic Championships two years ago, and last year was the youngest team at the national event, which is played with three players instead of four, and on a much smaller field than traditional polo.
In February, Prestonwood won its second consecutive Central Regional Championship in Houston, with Vaughn Miller Jr. being named the tournament MVP. The younger Miller said he hopes to eventually earn a college scholarship in polo.
“I was always riding horses from a really young age,” said Vaughn Jr., a freshman at Highland Park High School. “I practiced a lot and got a lot better. My goal is to be one of the best players in the world, and I feel I can do that.”