Austin Chandler ’10 has always been ready to give back to Culver. For him, the reason is evident.
“Culver shaped a lot of my life,” he said. From his love of polo and horses to his best friends to his current position with Cummins, Culver has influenced it all. Chandler and his wife, Shannon, were married in Memorial Chapel in 2017. “The Culver connections are pretty strong.”
Always involved with horses and polo with the family’s Hickory Hall Polo Club, which has been in operation for over 20 years, Chandler played at Culver. He got his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University, his MBA at Tarleton State University, and is now involved with sales and business development at Cummins in Indianapolis.
Last weekend, he drove up from his home outside of Zionsville, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, to umpire two polo matches. In between the matches was a “good breakfast” as Café Max Saturday morning, then he was headed back home.
Along with his parents, Greg and Donna, Chandler’s past involvement includes playing with his Hickory Hall polo team against the CMA team; and hosting the Ross W. Dale ’08 Memorial Cup and a One Culver event at Hickory Hall.
Playing on the Hickory Hall women’s team is Natalie Hogan ’13. She and her sister, Lillian ’11, often come out to ride since they live nearby, he said.
So, when it came time to retire two of their older polo ponies, the Chandlers didn’t have second thoughts about donating them to Culver. Still able to play, O.J. and Cricket had just slowed down enough they couldn’t maintain the “speed of play” they needed at Hickory Hall, Chandler explained. And since both are both black horses, it was “a no-brainer” to bring them to Culver. “There was just no question,” he added.
Chandler and his friends are already preparing for their 10-year reunion this May. “All my best friends come from Culver,” he said. “The brotherhood is alive and well.”
And the memories are just as vivid. After riding in the 2009 inaugural parade as a member of the Black Horse Troop, Chandler said he got chills watching the Troop and Equestriennes make the same trip down Pennsylvania Avenue in 2013 and 2017. Because he knows it is an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.