This 19-Year-Old Just Became The First Black Woman To Play In The Top-Tier Of U.S. Polo

Photo credit: Chris Palermo/For Hearst Connecticut Media

Do you believe in destiny? 

12 years ago, Shariah Harris' mother, Sharmell Harris, accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on a dead-end road while driving in Philadelphia. At the end of that dead-end road Sharmell stumbled upon a riding ring where she saw children of color riding horses. While there, she met Lezlie Hiner, founder of the Work to Ride program, which aims to provide children from low income homes with the opportunity to get involved with equestrian activities.

"As a mother of three children on a single income, I saw it as an opportunity to make their lives better," said Sharmell. "Instead of a soccer mom, I became a barn mom."

Photo credit: Chris Palermo / For Hearst Connecticut Media

Shariah's mother enrolled her into the Work to Ride program when she was 8 years old. Since then, Shariah has played in tournaments in other states and countries, snagged a full academic scholarship to Cornell University, earned a top spot on her school's indoor and outdoor 30-member polo team, and here recently, made history as the first African American woman to play in a top-tier U.S. polo event, also referred to as high-goal polo. 

The 19-year-old rode into the history books during the 2017 Silver Cup Polo Match at the Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Connecticut on Friday, June 30. 

"I just went out there and played with the big guys, people who I looked up to since coming up in the sport," said Harris. "If me playing will mean opportunities to play for other kids like me, then I'm perfectly happy to be breaking down doors."

Harris is set to play in her first public match at Greenwich Polo Club on July 9. 

Congratulations, Shariah! We'll be rooting for you!  


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