National titles routine for Garrison Forest polo coach School championship one of many for Halle


HAMPSTEAD -- National championships eventually may become boring to Cindy Halle.

For now, though, she still enjoys them.

Halle, an Upperco-area resident, coached the Garrison Forest School polo team to a national high school championship in mid-March. While her team's 15-10 victory over club team Shallowbrook (Conn.) gave the Grizzlies the United States Polo Association's National Interscholastic Women's Polo tournament title, Halle had been there before.

In fact, she's won titles several times. Let's start with college.

Halle found national success in college along the lines of UCLA's legendary men's basketball coach John Wooden. She played polo for the University of California at Davis, a school that won the national title each of the four years she played.

She began coaching at Garrison Forest -- an all-girls school in Owings Mills -- in the fall of 1986. Last year was the first year there was an all-girls national title tournament, and Garrison Forest fell in the finals.

This year was a different story, as Garrison Forest blew out Kent (Conn.), 24-1, in the first round, and then topped Shallowbrook for the title at the University of Virginia.

Halle said she was confident about the opening match. After that, however, she didn't know what lay in wait for the Grizzlies.

"I thought we would win the first game easily," said Halle. "I really didn't know what to expect [in the title game]. I had no idea."

Halle said winning the title was nice, but other things are just as important.

"I [want] to have the kids enjoy [polo]," said Halle. "Once it's not fun anymore, what's the point?"

Halle is tough to pin down, though, on her thoughts about winning a national title. She downplays her role.

"I guess I'm always looking ahead," said Halle. "I guess my attitude is: 'Yes, it's nice to win a national title.' "

Oh, and in regards to national titles and how they relate to Halle, there's a little more to talk about.

For example, this year's University of Virginia women's team -- the national champions -- has some Garrison Forest blood. The three Cavalier starters, Jenny Alexy, Bess Worrell and Christie Reed, are all Garrison Forest graduates and Halle disciples.

Halle also had a hand in helping Cornell -- the men's national champions. Carroll resident Trevor Wells, a member of the Cornell team, took polo lessons from Halle at Garrison Forest.

Halle could not hide her happiness over the success of her former players.

"I'm thrilled," said Halle. "That was my dream; that the Virginia jTC women would win and the Cornell men would win."

College, and Halle's good fortune there, helped fuel her coaching desire.

Halle said she simply wanted to bring the joy of polo to others. She seems to be succeeding.

"It's satisfying . . that I've helped [kids] along the way enjoy it as much as I did," said Halle.

Halle said it's a different world as a coach than it was as a player. As the coach, she has to worry about every detail.

When she played, she could simply concentrate on the match and worry about little else.

"It's easier to play then it is to coach," said Halle. "It's harder to be on the sidelines."

Halle still enjoys and plays the game. During the summer, she plays with the Maryland Polo Club twice a week.

The question is, however, what will Halle and Garrison Forest do for an encore? But for now, the coach says, she is satisfied and proud of her team.

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