Finding happiness in what you do is something that power femme Meghan Gracida learned along the way. As an active person, sports have always been a part of her life—a big passion, even—which, at first, seemed impossible for her to pursue full-time.
“I had been a volleyball player in college—I was on a full scholarship. Then I played professional beach volleyball for one season and realized there’s no money in it. So I decided that I’m going to get a real job,” she begins sharing her story to POLO LADY.
However, the years following her decision have taught her that working merely for financial sustenance isn’t for her. Her job in finance provided her with a steady and stable life, complete with all the perks and benefits that any woman in her 20s would need. The only catch: she isn’t happy.
“I hated every moment of it. It was completely not for me,” Meghan says. Wanting not to prolong the agony, she quit and returned home to her family. Little did she know that this move would open the opportunity to fulfill her dreams—and eventually, be always in bliss.
It was then that she first entered and got fully immersed in the field of horses. Bumping into equine veterinarian Dr. Doug Herthel, who started the company Platinum Performance, Meghan was invited to join his team. Long story short, she applied, got accepted, and, in her words, “fell in love with the job.”
On how she got involved in polo, she has her now-husband and sought-after polo player Memo Gracida to credit. They first met for work, got to know each other after that initial meet up, and decided that they found love in each other. And it just seemed natural for her other half to teach her the sport.
“I thought polo looked amazing, so I got on a horse, and he gave me riding lessons. Then, I started doing stick and ball, and I loved it,” the woman polo player recalls. But the attraction towards polo was put to a halt after Mehan hurt herself during practice. “I fell and had a concussion, broke my nose, got a broken lip. I became terrified of horses even though I really wanted to ride and play,” she shares.
Fast forward to a year after she married Memo, she was diagnosed with cancer. Being an independent woman, she cannot let anything derail her from living her life to the fullest. Everyday is an opportunity to be happy—something that she has chosen to follow since the day she said yes to what makes her heart jump for joy. Meghan made up her mind.
“I was very ill for a while. But I told myself, you know what, if I can get cancer at the age of 30, I’m gonna get over this fear of horses,” Meghan considers. “I really wanna play polo. It’s our life.”
As we know it, the La Herradura power player did overcome her fear. She beat the Big C and pursued her dream. Her passion and determination, coupled with her naturally athletic physique, made it possible for her to return to the saddle, ride, and evolve into a big polo contender in the arena.
At present, she’s not only galloping and joining matches—she’s also staging tournaments (she spearheads the Ladies Polo League for La Herradura!) and became the Chairwoman of the United States Polo Association’s (USPA) women’s committee.
With her new role, she thinks of great plans ahead for females in the sport. “If I can help get the United States back to being the best producer of women polo players, that would be the goal of mine,” Meghan spills. “I also think, as a player, I want to make it to 6 goals in women’s. I’ll work really hard, practice, and ride everyday.”
While she participates in mixed tournaments, Meghan can’t deny that surrounding herself with women polo players gives her a different kind of high. “Women’s polo became my favorite thing in the world,” she states, and there’s nothing that can change her mind!
She lists Sarah Wiseman and Nina Clarkin as players she wanted to be in a team with; however, it doesn’t limit her desire to be paired with other players, whether they have played in the game for quite some time or are the up-and-coming young stars. “There’s a level of passion and horsemanship that women bring to the game,” Meghan comments. It empowers women because we all know that not too long ago, women weren’t even allowed to step foot on the pitch. Therefore, it brings a level of respect for one another and camaraderie that is shared both on and off the field. “It’s amazing that women’s polo is growing—worldwide. It’s women empowering each other.”
But it’s not just inspiring and being inspired by fellow women polo players. It’s also the fact that she gets to be with people she likes and, above all, loves that keeps her thrilled and committed to polo. “The best thing about being in polo is the fact that I get to do it with friends and family. I don’t think many people get that opportunity,” Meghan happily says.
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.