I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Silver during the Hoedown Throwdown in Ashville earlier this year. We talked about her experiences in bike polo, how different areas of the country play polo differently, and what she thought about the female players of the sport.
So what’s your current polo setup (bike, equipment, everything)?
I have a Bern Helmet that is almost done, a Milwaukee Bruiser frame and fork, mixed up Velocity and Weinmann wheel set, Squarebuilt handlebars, some crazy ass bmx stem that’s just like a big block of metal, Soma saddle and that’s like all the important stuff.
How did you start playing? Where do you play now, where did you play before?
I have played all over the place, I started playing in Savannah, when the club started up. I played there for maybe a year and then moved back to Asheville. I tried to start playing here but nobody really got into it, so I started playing grass polo here for a few months. Then I moved to Richmond and played with them for seven months and then found myself in New York City and played with them for 6 months.
Then I moved back down to Asheville and met up with Jackson, who moved up here from Florida in the time that I was gone, and he started a club up here.
What style would you say you have? Aggressive, defensive, goalie?
Honestly, growing up playing sports I was always the defensive kind of player but now I’m very forward – I like scoring goals, I like being in people’s faces. I think I have the Southeast kind of laid back style still, but the Northeast I’m-going-to-be-an-asshole, getting mad kinda thing. I think that’s my style, I’m a mix of all the East Coast cities.
I have regretfully not interviewed many women for polo, and I was curious about how polo, as a mix gender sport – which is great – how do you think polo has modified itself or made itself fit for the ladies playing the sport?
I think at first it was definitely a struggle because a lot of girls – and I mean the still – get intimidated because it’s still a male dominated sport. But since Ladies Army started and Hell’s Belles in London, there’s been some really bad ass Cascadia girls and Southern girls starting to come up and kill it. It makes me, as a female athlete in general, feel like I can really hang in any sport.
I think the fact that it’s kept being co-ed is really important. I never want to play with all girls except for those tournaments and it’s so much fun doing that, but I want to muscle up to the guys. Not because I feel like I need to prove myself –
But because there is no difference.
Exactly. I like going out there and guys being like “wow, she’s an asshole – she’s a huge dick. Just like these other guys!”
How do you think female players have changed bike polo?
I think that women have kept it a gentleman’s sport in a big way. I think that just female presence in general make is so all the guys keep in check and aren’t the biggest assholes in the world like they can be. I think it’s made a lot of guys have a lot of respect for women in general, who might have not considered playing any sport with girls, now they’re like “ oh yeah, they can do it to, and better than I can.”
Have you experienced that before?
I did at first, I think. Especially when I moved back to Asheville and played with the grass polo guys; there were no girls and they’d never seen girls playing bike polo. The fact that I played hardcourt and they were scared of it was really awesome. I haven’t experienced it that much, not recently. Now it’s just accepted.
Why do you think women are underrepresented in the NAHBPC and WHBPC?
I think that a lot of girls – man, that’s a good question – I think that a lot of girls are intimidated, maybe? A lot of people talked about Lady’s Army becoming a qualifier, and I think that there just aren’t as many girls and maybe they just aren’t as good as a lot of the top guy players.
And that’s fine – it’s not because we’re girls. I think a lot of girls kind of tend to be the ones who don’t travel for tournaments as much and just play pickup more often. Until they get in there and experience their first tournament they kind of just stay out of it.
I think it’s a lack of amount of females.
Well at this tournament, there’s who?
Me, Erica, Morgan, Michelle, and Emily, I think.
I would even consider that a higher concentration.
I would, too. I was surprised, honestly, that there were that many girls. I was expecting just me and Morgan.
If you had to give advice to someone who has been playing for a long time, what would you say?
Keep being humble. Nobody likes a dick – that’s the number one rule in bike polo. I think that people take it way too seriously and at the end of the day we’re all maniacs just having fun. Just keep going, cause it’s something you can do for your entire life. Look at Jackson – he’s old as fucking dirt and he’s still playing!
(At this point in the interview Jackson did his best hick voice and shouted “1975” over and over , which was perfect).
Wait, what was the question?
Things to tell other players
Right – stay humble. Travel a lot. People love couch surfers and I’ve met so many great people that I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t play bike polo. You can go anywhere in the world and say “hey, I play bike polo, where’s the polo scene at, and I need a place to stay.”
Is there anything in particular you’d like to see bike polo adopt? Any rules or tournaments or style of play? Bike developments?
I think that the way polo is going we’re going to start seeing a break in between the players who get to go to Geneva and get to play in worlds every year and have really high level play and then people like us who play at tournaments like this.
I was just talking to someone who was mourning how we don’t look around for pipes sticking out of the ground and sawing it off in the middle of the night instead of just ordering something online – and I totally respect those guys [bike polo equipment manufacturers] and they’ve totally made my life easier, but I’d like to keep it punk rock, I guess. I think that the way it’s going is great – that the NAH is great, filled with really hardworking dedicated people. They should keep plugging at it and find their place.
I think the way it’s going, it’s progressing rapidly. I wouldn’t mind if it slowed down just a little bit.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t know, I bet there is. Maybe you should ask me after we’ve had some whiskey.
And we did have that whiskey, and subsequently I forgot to ask her anything after that.
Thanks Anne for the great interview, and for taking the time away from the tourney to talk to me that day.