2024 HCA Annual Meeting

From John Craddock:

Your Amazing Social Committee has worked hard to ensure a quality year for its members. I am honored to chair this fun committee and to be assisted by members who are family to me:

Joe Leary, vice chairman

Anne Coco

Mary Craddock

Donna Hamel

Tish Peterkin

For those of you who come out and play croquet with us on the weekends, no doubt you’ve noticed the buffet table always laden with treats in the pavilion: Joe Leary’s endless homemade Bloody Marys and fresh garnishes, Tish & George’s chilled Margaritas, Donna & Lee’s flowing Prosecco, a huge cooler always filled with iced-down drinks, and many edibles various members contribute without being asked. A strong spirit of community, giving and sharing abounds within our organization. And we are the beneficiaries. The fellowship is just as important as the croquet in many respects. I want to thank the Social Committee for its unique role in cultivating and promoting this sense of conviviality through their unending hospitality and inclusivity. 

All HCA members and their guests are encouraged to play on our lawns. Everybody is included, no matter the skill level. Many times we even have canine companions who provide amusement and company along the way.  Instruction is freely offered, maybe too often, but we just want to maximize everybody’s potential. And the banter is most entertaining on and off the courts. There are many sublime moments when sitting back in the pavilion and watching a match or gazing across the golf course, especially when there’s a soft breeze and the late afternoon sun provides vivid colorations. Listening to the armchair critics can be most enlightening. You’ll hear pithy things like “I can’t believe that shot”.  “Good God, what’s taking them so long?” “Don’t go dead—just go to partner.”  And my favorite which is a bit ironic since Joe Leary is the quintessential gentleman:  “Once you get your opponent down, you gotta keep ‘em down with your foot on their neck.”  It’s all there for the taking.  It is your Houston Croquet Association!

A special shout-out goes to club treasurer Paul Chan who regularly hosts a weekday afternoon of six wicket and golf croquet for all members. The attendance is impressive and these weekly gatherings have helped hone the skills of many of our players. Clearly regular play creates better players as demonstrated by rising star Bass Wallace who has embraced the sport with a fervor this past year. And having a puppy who needs to run around creates an opportunity for regular practice as evidenced by Charlotte Pulitzer who has become our female phenom.

Four years ago we rallied our members for the first time to compete in the USCA Club Teams Tournament at the National Croquet Center. Our travel team donned embroidered hats and shirts, brought cheerleaders to Florida, and caused the National Croquet Center bar to run dry on tequila. We took the other teams by storm and came home with a stunning upset by John Brown & Bob Pulitzer in the finals of the Championship Flight. Suddenly the Texans were being talked about. We’ve returned each year since then and have taken home the coveted Jim R. Lyons Trophy for the past three years in a row. Our club was named Club of the Year under John Watson’s term as president and this June we will be hosting the prestigious Midwest Regionals. Our current president, John Brown, was recently recognized by the USCA as district president of the year. Folks have taken notice of the Houston Croquet Association and its members. The bar at the NCC now remains fully-stocked with tequila, our club produces leaders on the local and national levels, and we can boast many excellent competitors at all levels of play. Our travel team competes around the country and provides formidable competition wherever they go. 

This year at Club Teams we came home with accolades in every flight:

John Brown & Bob Pulitzer - Championship Flight Finalists

Mary & John Craddock - First Flight Semi Finalist

Penny Pressler & Charlotte Pulitzer - Second Flight Finalists

Mary Jo & Don Chapoton - Third Flight Champions

Our club was spotlighted for supporting the collegiate initiative in croquet and John Brown was named recipient of the Les Kelley Award.

Looking ahead, we will be roasting burgers and hot dogs at the pavilion on Memorial Day weekend and celebrating National Croquet Day on June 1. Please make plans to join us for these fun events and bring your friends. On June 6-9 the Houston Armadillos will return to Long Island to take on the Quogue Clams in the 3rd Annual Bayou Beach Cup. And we are working with USCA President Damon Bidencope and his counterpart in the Spanish Federation of Croquet to begin a friendship tournament for women that would be alternately played in Houston and Spain.

Come on out and join the fun. It is nonstop and promises to provide merriment and intrigue along the way.