The future is now. Aiken has its own interscholastic polo team, and the team played its first games two weeks ago in Charleston against teams from Atlanta and Charleston. The team from Aiken placed second in the tournament, with Atlanta earning the top spot and Charleston coming in third. The team from Aiken is coached by Craig Fraser, and the roster consisted of Austin Allen, Miranda Gantt, Tess Pimsner and Jeff Schuler. Fraser, a professional polo player, manager of the Aiken Polo Club and an All-American at Texas A&M, has a background in interscholastic polo, having coached a team in Fort Worth, Texas. The horseman tried unsuccessfully to start a program in Aiken for the past four or five years, but nothing ever came to fruition. Aiken County Pony Club's Ginny Allen approached Fraser in August, and he initially had some concerns, as he plays polo in Florida during the winter. Aiken Junior Polo's Karen Reese became involved about two months ago, said Fraser. "Karen puts a lot of energy into everything she does," he said. The pre-regional tournament will be held in Atlanta, and if the team advances to the regional tournament, they'll have an opportunity to play at nationals, which will be held at the Virginia Polo Center in Charlottesville, Va. There's the hope that several other more experienced players will be part of the program, said Reese. "We have the talent and the horses," she said. The Polo Training Foundation and Aiken Junior Polo will be holding a fundraiser in fall 2011. There is the possibility that the Aiken Junior Polo program and the interscholastic program may merge, said Fraser. Players participating in the Aiken Junior Polo Program have gone through the levels, improving their skills markedly, graduating to where they are now playing at the advanced level. "We're trying to broaden the base and demonstrate how polo can be beneficial and educational," said Fraser. "Players who become involved with the sport learn about responsibility, about how to care for the horses and teamwork." If students are interested in participating in the program, they have to have passing grades, live within 100 miles of Aiken and be in good standing with their school. To be eligible, participants have to be in at least the sixth grade and can be as old as 19, if they turn 19 after Sept. 1. Contact Ben Baugh at bbaugh@aikenstandard.com.