There is a widespread misconception surrounding the sport of polo; that it’s a divot-stomping, mint julep-drinking, collared shirt-wearing social event for the rich and the Royals. On the contrary, polo is a multifaceted sport, requiring mental toughness, athletic ability, and equestrian skill. This dynamic team sport is not only athletically and emotionally taxing, but is also extremely dangerous.
Nic Roldan, Captain of the U.S. Polo Team and the Face of American Polo, explains, “You’re traveling at 30 to 40 miles per hour, chasing a ball that three other players are chasing. One bad decision can cost you your life.”
It’s a difficult concept to fathom though when watching Nic play. He elegantly navigates the field, gliding past opponents with grace and precision; wielding his mallet with gladiator-like authority. “You have to be quick to react and incredibly focused. Polo is like a chess match, it’s strategically played and horses are strategically positioned on the field. But it’s also a very physical game with high intensity and no room for error.”
Polo is in Nic’s blood, helping to explain his inordinate talent. He’s a 4th generation polo player, father Raul, once played for the Sultan of Brunei. At age 2, their Argentinian family moved to Wellington, Florida, a polo-playing breeding ground. By the time he was 3, Nic was saddling up next to his father. Horseback riding became second nature and polo became a regular pastime. Not long thereafter, Nic was the world’s youngest professional polo player at age 14. This wouldn’t be his only world record, however. Perhaps his proudest accomplishment, “winning the U.S. Open when I was fifteen was definitely an amazing moment,” which accredited the now 35-year-old, to be the youngest player in history to win the prestigious U.S. Open Polo title.
Albeit hard to believe, Nic wasn’t always confident in his skill. As a young professional, Nic got nervous and even a little superstitious. He admits, “I used to not clean my socks or not eat certain things [if I was on a winning streak] but as I’ve gotten older, I realize its all about preparation.” The professional polo player is dedicated to honing his skill and trains almost everyday. “You have to be 100% determined and confident and have a lot of optimism to become a professional, to be a winner.” This mentality earned him impressive career stats, corroborated with numerous trophies and titles on five continents at every goal level.
Nic is somewhat of an oxymoron to the sport of Kings; wearing leather jackets, sporting tattoos and riding motorcycles. He’s surely not the vision one might expect of an upscale royal pastime. The U.S. Polo Captain’s demeanor is personified by his lime green skull and mallet logo, contrasting to other preppy symbols surrounding the heavily traditionalist sport. He explains, “Some people think it’s menacing but my intention was for [the logo] to be modern and edgy.”
Perhaps it’s a bad boy facade to aid in his ultimate endeavor of increasing awareness about the sport’s true nature. “The biggest misconception with polo is that people think it’s just a lifestyle or luxury and that it’s not even a sport.” He is prospecting an athletic apparel line, hoping it will peak interest and initiate a movement to make the sport more accessible.
A true Renaissance man, Nic Roldan is also business savvy. The Prince of Polo has a passion for real estate and has his hands in two different ventures. He and his mother flip houses under the name Roldan Designs. “My mother is an interior designer and has a very eclectic, unique style. My style is more contemporary and modern, so the combination creates something beautiful. It’s wonderful to spend time together doing something fun.” Nic’s second real estate undertaking was conceived with two childhood friends. Their business, Bedford Park Investment Group, delivers state-of-the-art turnkey equestrian facilities to the South Florida area. “It keeps me very busy [when I’m not playing polo] we do everything from creative design to construction. I love the creative aspect.”
With countless stellar accomplishments, Nic still shows no signs of slowing down. “My biggest goal is to reach the ten-goal handicap which would be the ultimate achievement.” He continues with a long list of lofty aspirations, “I’d love to compete in the Argentine Tournament [the biggest tournament in the world], and would love to win another U.S. Open title, win the Queens Cup the Gold Cup, and just be the best that I can be.” No doubt that he will one day achieve all of his dreams, as the 35-year-old’s work ethic and unadulterated talent is unsurmountable.
Nic was also awarded the Harriman Cup, which honors outstanding individuals who have influenced the world of polo and who embody leadership and public service. A well deserving title as Nic is a devout philanthropist; an ambassador to charities including Brooke USA and the Kids Cancer Foundation. Brooke USA is committed to improving the health and well-being of working horses, donkeys and mules by providing treatment, training, and programs to some of the world’s poorest communities. Nic remains stedfast in advocating for horses welfare as they have been such an important aspect of his childhood and professional career. Together, they’ve created events like Nic Roldan’s Sunset Tournament, which has raised over a half million dollars in the past two years. Now extending globally, they plan to hold their first event outside of the U.S. this summer at the Cowdray House, a castle in Midhurst West Sussex, England.
Polo is not the only love of his life, however. Nic confessed his admiration for longtime girlfriend, Jessica Springsteen, decorated equestrian and daughter of Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen. “I am so lucky to have found someone who shares a passion for horses. She’s an amazing girl and we’re so happy.” They support each others’ careers, Nic says, “I love watching jumping and I’m fascinated by her sport… I especially love watching her ride.” Polo matches and horse jumping have led the power couple to some of the most beautiful places in the world. They seem to be on a never-ending Jetset circuit; currently spending most of the summer months competing in England before heading to Spain in July.
Self-proclaimed ‘Modern Day Gypsy’ is definitely a world traveler but surely his mature manner and legendary achievements call for a title more deserving; maybe ‘Cosmopolitan Badass’ or ‘Globetrotting Gladiator.’ Or perhaps his namesake says it all: The Face of American Polo, Globetrotter, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur. Nic Roldan.