Kareem Rosser is a 22-year-old collegiate Polo player from Colorado State University. Born in Philadelphia, he learned to ride horses at 8 years old after getting involved with Work to Ride, a local nonprofit that helps inner city youth learn to play Polo in exchange for work around the stable. Little did he know fourteen years later he would be guiding his college team to its first national championship in 16 years.
Rosser has won numerous awards and was even selected to be a part of one of the US Polo Teams that competed against England in an international match last spring.
Local fans can see Rosser live and in person Sat., Oct. 24 at WestWorld of Scottsdale where he will play on the Club Cabo Team in the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships. To meet Rosser in person, locals can attend a meet and greet session at Relish Burger Bistro at The Phoenician Thurs., Sept. 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Before the big game, Arizona Foothills Magazine got a chance to speak to him on the phone about his thoughts on Polo and his advice to aspiring players.
AFM: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF PLAYING POLO?
Rosser: I enjoy all the cool people that I’ve met over the years. I love being an athlete and being able to go out and play with a team, (and) the adrenaline rush of going down the field at 35 or 45 miles per hour.
AFM: WHAT DO YOU FIND HARDEST ABOUT THE SPORT?
Rosser: The hardest part is the riding part. For most people, once you get the riding down then all the other mechanics fall in place, but being able to ride different horses and understand how to ride is the most challenging part.
AFM: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HUMILITY AS AN ATHLETE?
Rosser: Sometimes I think everyone has an ego and it’s important, like always, to keep that in check. For me personally there are a lot of things in sports that motivate me to want to do more and accomplish more and learn from being around some of the best (athletes) in the world. You have to act humble, but at the same time I think it’s important to appreciate what you have and stay competitive and realize that there (are) people out there that are better than you. It makes me want to work harder. That’s kind of what I’ve learned over the years.
AFM: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG PLAYERS WANTING TO PLAY POLO?
Rosser: To young players I would just say it’s important to practice and take every advantage there is to ride and know there are people that are better than you. I’ve had some good coaches, but I’ve (also) just learned from the players themselves.
AFM: IS THERE SIGNIFICANCE IN LOSING?
Rosser: I learn a lot from losing. When I first began, all I ever did was lose, but you stick around until you figure out how to win. That just comes with time, playing and practicing, but more importantly, I would tell people to focus on what you can learn from other people. I think that helps a lot of people grow their game.
AFM: DO YOU ENJOY THE SPOTLIGHT THAT COMES WITH BEING A SUCCESSFUL POLO PLAYER?
Rosser: It’s always nice when you have fans, but (for) me personally…I like to be in the background. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that all the time, but I think it’s great for the sport. If you have a good fan base, I think it’s important to help the sport grow.
AFM: BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, DO PEOPLE HAVE ANY PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT WHAT POLO IS?
Rosser: A lot of people think it’s going to be a very wealthy person’s game and stuff like that, and it’s not all about that. Being able to follow the sport is difficult… It’s a social thing as well.
AFM: WHY IS POLO SO SPECIAL TO YOU?
Rosser: It changed my life. I get to travel the world and visit places I would’ve never had the opportunity to, and it’s opened a lot of doors for me personally. I’ve made connections I probably never would have. Not only is the sport great, but (also) most people in it are great people. So there’s a lot the game brings with the people. It’s been a good ride for me, and I appreciate every day I’ve been able to play.
For more information on where to see Rosser play, visit Bentley's website by clicking here.
Interview and Story by Taylor Seely