Polo is expensive, exclusive and played mostly by wealthy white men. But that didn’t matter to Lezlie Hiner. In 1996, she started the first-ever African-American polo team in the country, to keep inner-city kids off the streets and in school.
Her non-profit organization, Work to Ride, teaches 20 boys and girls from the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia to ride horses for free. In exchange, the students help with barn chores at her Chamounix Stables, a safe haven deep within Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.
After a decade, the team was so good they were running rings around white players from polo families who had been riding their whole lives. When no high school team could beat the young teens, they were invited to play against colleges like Harvard.
Seventeen years after starting the program, exhausting years in which Hiner relentlessly chauffeured her kids to polo matches and clinics all over the country, Hiner experienced her proudest moment. In 2011, the team won the Interscholastic National Championship — the first African-American team to win a championship title in polo history.
Not only that, the kids in the program maintain at least a “C” average in school, and get tutoring if they fall behind. One of her players, Kareem Rosser, was chosen as the Interscholastic Polo Player of the Year and was asked to join the Ivy League Cornell University team.
(WATCH the inspiring video below or read the full story from ESPN)