Nic Roldan is very much the poster guy for polo in the US. He is a fourth-generation player, won the country’s most prestigious tournament, the US Open Polo Championship at only 15 with Escue, and at 8 goals is among the top 1% in the sport, globally. He looks as good in a team shirt and whites as he does in a blazer, he’s sociable, and universally well-liked. It’s a winning combination.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1982, today Roldan is predominantly based out of America’s equine capital, Wellington, Florida, in the thick of the country’s top polo barns, clubs, and professional operations. However, when he isn’t at home, he’s in Aspen for the summer playing in the shadow of Mount Sopris, taking to the pitch for invitational charity games with the likes of Prince Harry in New York, or heading to Europe for the competitive high goal seasons.
He’s among a handful of non-Argentine players to have competed in The Triple Crown, the three most prestigious tournaments in the world, and in 2018 was congratulated by the late Queen Elizabeth when he was triumphant in The Queen’s Cup in England.
Of course, being a world-class athlete takes dedication and sacrifice; throw in temperamental teammates like champion thoroughbreds that require round-the-clock attention, training, and care, then it becomes more than a career, or even a calling – it’s a way of life.
Image: Nick Mele
But Roldan has more than simply ‘polo player’ on his resume. As well as endorsements and sponsorship commitments which often require interviews or polo workshops with the media and photoshoots for the glossies like Vanity Fair, Roldan is an entrepreneur, using his knowledge of the luxury market to pivot into other industries. Away from The Day Job, he is also a property developer. Having been inspired by his mother, Dee an interior decorator, he produces stunning high-end homes and equestrian parks that sell for millions of dollars.
He carries a real estate license and collaborates with Engel & Volkers, the authority on lavish homes in Wellington and Palm Beach. He is co-founder of High Goal Gin, a collaborative project which yields a silky smooth, Charleston-made liquor inspired by his visits to the UK, and he has an apparel line which caters to the needs of the nomadic, modern individual.
There are also the corporate gigs and experience mornings which he offers to groups and enthusiasts seeking a polo-taster session or a once-in-a-lifetime lesson with a regular member of the American polo squad.
Outside of work, he is dedicated to his philanthropic commitments specifically focused on the welfare of children. He hosts a transatlantic annual fundraiser – this year’s was a golden hour exhibition match with an after party headlined by rapper 50 Cent at Grand Champions Polo Club in Florida – but he also invests his time in an on-the-ground approach.
He is an ambassador for Kids Cancer Foundation, an organization that provides emotional, financial, and spiritual support for children and their families facing cancer, and in Colorado, where he plays several months a year, he volunteers weekly at WindWalkers, an equine-assisted learning and therapy center.
Image: Juan Lamarca
There are the odd tabloid stories and celebrity-linked headlines, but Roldan’s constants are his family and a core, fraternity-esque posse of friends who form a tight unit. The image of the polo player as a play boy is an archaic one – there is just too much to do.
Roldan’s day begins with his trainer, following a bespoke hybrid of cross-training and Pilates, aimed at increasing his longevity in the sport which can be punishing to the professional’s body. Having worked out, it’s down to the barn to check the horses, perhaps plan for afternoon matches, and to catch up with the grooms over a caffeine-rich maté.
Mid-morning, his attention turns to R Polo Holdings – the umbrella company for his entrepreneurial interests – before inevitably heading off to a working lunch. Afternoons are reserved for team practices or for the big games, frenetic hours of gladiatorial ride offs, heart-in-your-mouth cut shots, and – hopefully – exultant celebration.
Then there are the photoshoots, fielding the media, and channeling the rest of his energy into the Next Big Idea. Fortunately, he carves out time for himself with weekends often involving a round or two of golf, and evenings spent with family and friends at home where he is happiest.
It’s safe to say, he’s pretty busy working on Brand Roldan. And although the gypsy-like nature of a polo player’s life on the road can mean very few days pan out the same, he tries to retain balance and a semblance of routine where he can.
Polo may be a high-octane sport; demanding and dangerous, high in adrenaline. But like all top sportsmen, Roldan understands that in order to be truly successful, you have to be as committed off pitch as on. A consummate professional. Always investing into your way of life.