Polo player Hope Arellano, a rising 15-year-old star who regularly competes with men and women, has been busy making a name for herself in the sport since winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017. She was the youngest player ever to win America’s top prize in women’s polo.
“I’m going to keep striving to be the best that I can,” said Arellano, who has been heralded as a shining example of the next generation of polo players who are blazing a trail promoting the sport worldwide.
Born into a true polo family from Wellington and Aiken, S.C., Arellano played in her first match prenatally. “I was [still] in my mom’s tummy, and the other team said that we were cheating because there were actually five girls on the team, not four,” Arellano explained.
Hope is the daughter of Julio and Meghan Arellano, and sister to Agustin and Lucas Arellano. The whole family participates in the sport. “My dad is a professional polo player, and my mom used to play, but when my brothers started playing, she gave them her horses,” Arellano said. “My mom and my dad are very supportive of my polo career. Since I started competing in tournaments at age 11, my mom even traveled overnight with my horses from Wyoming to Santa Barbara to give me the opportunity to play in the highest-rated tournament on the West Coast.”
Proficiently swinging a mallet at age six, Arellano bypassed the transition from competing as a junior competitor to playing with adults because she began playing in adult tournaments when she was so young. Despite her mature talent, Arellano’s current string of horses gives a hint to her age. She named off the current mounts: “Hot Diggity Dog, Milkshake, BB, Bumble Bee, Cha Ching, Goosebumps, Got Milk, Jackson and Wild Flower.”
In addition to winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017, Arellano said other times on the field also stand out as highlights. “Winning the 12-goal Pete Bostwick Memorial with my two brothers and my dad,” she recalled. “Last year, I got to substitute for the Daily Racing Form team in the 20-goal season.”
Arellano enjoys the comradery of the sport. “The opportunity to play with players at this level was amazing for my learning experience, and they were so kind to me,” she said. “My favorite thing about polo is the horses… But I also love that polo is an extended family. Wherever you go, you’re welcomed.”
Arellano is currently homeschooled by her mother because it allows her to travel while still getting a great education. “Polo is a traveling sport, so I enjoy the opportunity to go back and forth from Aiken to South Florida,” she said.
The well-organized teenager makes efficient use of her time to balance schoolwork with the equestrian lifestyle and the game of polo. “I’ve always had to multitask, and we had a lot of family animals, like baby sheep, horses, racoons, etc.,” Arellano explained. “I always wanted to get up early to take care of the animals. This created an environment where I’ve never really had to not work hard.”
Currently Arellano is focusing on a new position as well as improving her playing prowess. “I am very excited to be partnering with U.S. Polo Assn. and being one of their global brand ambassadors,” she said. “I am also very focused on trying to learn and become a better player at all times. These two things are of great focus to me right now.”
Being the newest member of U.S. Polo Assn.’s growing roster of global brand ambassadors, she’ll be outfitted in company gear on and off the field. Arellano will post regularly about her polo-related and other daily activities on social media and engage in interviews. The goal is to boost awareness of the sport of polo among young women like herself.
Arellano described some of the goals she holds for women in the sport.
“Women in polo is growing every day, not only in the U.S. but globally,” she said. “Sunny Hale, a pioneer in the game, paved the road for women and created playing opportunities. I’m excited to be playing in this year’s U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, which was recently moved to Wellington. It’ll be exciting to see the women come together to build awareness.”
Arellano is also featured in a “Women In Polo” digital and television show. “I also recently participated in an upcoming documentary-type show with Palm Beach County and U.S. Polo Assn., covering women in the sport and their lives on-and-off the field,” she said.