Polo Changed His Life, and Now Gobin Works Hard to Give Back
by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer
|Polo changed professional
player John Gobin's life in a very positive way, and, as the new general
manager for the Great Meadow Polo Club, he is trying to raise the bar
and make changes that will take the club to the next level.
Gobin grew up in Rehoboth, Mass., and until he was given the chance to learn how to play polo at age 14, he spent a good amount of his time just “hanging out with other kids on the street.”
Gobin worked at a local barn, cleaning out the stalls, and, by a stroke of luck, was given the chance to learn polo because the farm's polo team needed an extra player.
“Polo completely changed my life,” he said in a recent interview. “I grew up poor, so polo exposed me to different people and a different lifestyle. I got to hang out with doctors, lawyers and educated people, instead of thugs.”
Once he found polo, Gobin said he knew that's what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He worked extra hard in high school to graduate a year early, so he could spend time learning the sport in Argentina.
Twenty-three years have gone by since Gobin started playing polo (15 years as a professional), and he is still deeply involved in the sport, playing between 50 to 60 matches each winter.
Wanting to take it easy and relax this summer, Gobin decided to take on the Great Meadow manager position. But he hasn't done much relaxing yet.
With only 25 members in the club last year, Gobin wanted to increase membership, as well as make the matches more organized and regimented.
“We were low on members, so I called almost everyone,” he said. “I tried to say we'd run it like a club in Florida, with tournaments, leagues, starting on time, finals and trophies. If you're a businessman from D.C., you want a match scheduled for 5 p.m. to start at 5 p.m. It was country polo before. The matches would start when everyone rolled in. I'm trying to make it more professional.”
Gobin has been successful in his recruiting, and now has 65 members at the club. He attributes much of his success to the amenities Great Meadow offers.
“With between 200 and 300 acres and a steeplechase course, selling Great Meadow is like selling heaven,” he said.
When Gobin isn't busy (a rarity), he likes to spend time with his wife, who is a veterinarian, and five-year-old daughter.
He also enjoys working on his horse farm in North Carolina, where he has about 15 horses.
“If you ask polo players what they love most about the sport, it's the horses,” he said. “They become part of the family.”
John Gobin spends time on the field with Shaquille O'Neil and polo players Dough Parent, Adam Figueroa and Raymond Guest (shown with his daughter). Gobin was a youth in Massachusetts when a chance encounter with polo changed his life forever.