The Blue Ridge Brawl debuted September 26-27, 2020, hosted by Heartland Polocrosse Club. The Eastern Zone sanctioned tournament enjoyed weather good for 2 full days of chukkas. Fifty three riders competed on 18 teams E to A Grade.
The Carpenter’s Round Hill, Virginia field has hosted club practices, play days and Virginia Region Pony Club Polocrosse Rallies since 2016. Chief Umpire Chris Salas, Jamie Zito doing ratings, and Paul Johnson on stats kept the tournament running smoothly all weekend. Special thanks to Frankie’s mom, Angie, for scoring the duration!
Paul Johnson was on hand for instruction the preceding week (direct from Sandie Creek GA tournament the weekend before) for 7 local young riders and 16 polocrosse competitors who took part in lessons. Friday afternoon Ryan Murphy and Rahul Desai led ground skills and drills—a preview of the Mega Clinic coming up in November!
Saturday morning chukkas kicked off on the main field with the singing of the National Anthem led by Paul Johnson. Midday Chuckles featured local young riders and next generation polocrosse prodigy. Two plus sections debuted with lively game call by JR. Saturday night BBQ dinner by Smokin’ Willie was accompanied by live bluegrass band featuring Melissa Wright, Danny Nicely, and Aimee Curl.
Sunday afternoon chukkas paused. Erin White, presented The John “Johno” Digney Passion to Play Award to Halee Stroh.
Johno’s parents Whitney and John present along with Johno’s pony, Dixie, marked the occasion with emotion. Ryan Murphy and Rahul Desai shared memories of Johno.
The Passion to Play award is presented to the player who most exemplifies pure competitive spirit and joy of the game. The ideal award winner displays a strong partnership with their mount, in recognition of the magic relationship between Johno and Dixie (“Greased Lightning”). All players should aspire to the bond and trust in each other that Johno and Dixie displayed. Additionally, the award recipient demonstrates a high level of care of their mount both on and off the field.
Growing up as an active member of Heartland Polocrosse Club and Mountain Skyline Pony Club in central Virginia, John enjoyed competing in tournaments, rallies, and Championships from Pennsylvania to Florida, most often wearing the #1 jersey.
Johno will be remembered as a loyal teammate by those who played with him and a fierce, but fun competitor by those who played against him. Johno’s laughter could be heard ringing across the field, as he came up on a ball carrier and readied that big, left-handed swing. His face mask couldn’t come close to hiding his smile…he LOVED to play the game.
John’s life was taken too soon in a tragic, single-car accident near his home in August 2020. John was just 23 years old. Please, drive safely and always wear your seatbelt.
Blue Ridge Brawl Tournament Results:
1st Place: E1 Bay Area—Lisa, Grace, Sabrina
2nd Place: E2 NC,VA Mix—Kerry, Hugo, Dillon
3rd Place: E4 Bay Area—Mia, Lilly, Joelle
Best Horse Rider Combo: Sabrina & A Feather’s Blessing
1st: D4 Heartland–Jennifer, Scott, EB
2nd: D1 Sugarloaf Sassafrass Mix– Christy, Stephanie, Janet
3rd: D2 Heartland– Cameron, Adina, Stacy
Best Horse Rider Combo: Stephanie & Nove
1st: C1 Dolls With Balls–Rachel, Shaina, Ella
2nd: C2 Bay Area–Shaylin, Andrew, Jackie
3rd: C4 Mix– Julie, Rebecca, Bean
Best Horse Rider Combo: Ella & Lexi
1st: B3 Sugarloaf —Halee, Ashby, Jon
2nd: B1 Mix—Charla, Summer, Sarah
3rd: B2 YDT Goal Diggers—Scott JR, Alexandra, Bean
Best Horse Rider Combo: Summer & Keystone Commander in Chief
1st: A1 Bay Area—Paul, Ryan, Erin
2nd: A3 Sugarloaf—Catherine, Kevin, Alex
3rd: A2, Mix—Peter, Sarah, Rahul
Best Horse Rider Combo: Alex & Chocolatini (Coco)