October 25, 2018

No Language Barrier: The Story of Esther Clotet and Homero Pardi

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The first week Ohio State field hockey midfielder Esther Clotet was a freshman, she didn’t even try to speak.

Hailing from Terrassa, about a half hour away from Barcelona, Esther starred on the Spanish youth national team. The language barrier once she arrived in the United States was more difficult than any goalkeeper she beat along the way.

“I remember my first week,” Clotet said. “I couldn’t talk. I was shy. I was kind of shocked and scared … When I had to translate, that was so hard.”

Hitting the fast forward button to the present day, she’s leading the Scarlet and Gray in scoring and into a postseason run as they get set to take on No. 10 Rutgers in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

A big reason she is at the forefront of the Buckeye attack is her relationship with Ohio State assistant coach Homero Pardi, a bond established before she ventured to Columbus.

Prior to joining the Buckeyes’ staff in 2014, Pardi was a coach at Rider University in New Jersey, where he mentored Esther’s sister, Carlota.

The link between Pardi and the Clotet family was forged at Rider and when he landed in Columbus, Esther became a top priority.

“When I finally got the job here, I had so much respect for Carlota and I started to get to know Esther,” he, now in his fifth season, said. “I needed to pass this experience and the love and joy I have for this place into someone else.”

Ohio State Buckeyes

“I needed to pass this experience and the love and joy I have for this place into someone else.”


A priority for Esther was that she wanted a place to combine school and field hockey, which is not as simple across the Atlantic as it is in the United States.

“Professors are much more helpful,” Esther said. “At home, if I were to go practice with the national team, they would say ‘ok but you’re going to miss your exam.’ Here, they are pretty flexible.”

Classroom flexibility was only one of the reasons Esther decided to come to Ohio State. Competitive Big Ten field hockey, Pardi’s sales pitch of the Ohio State campus and a common bond of the Spanish language were all supplements for the player who would soon become a force on the Buckeye attacking front.

When she got to Columbus, however, she was reserved to say the least. While helping her through the early stages, Pardi had to force her to get out of the habit of using him as a crutch for her own benefit.

“I think I helped her with a little bit of tough love,” Pardi said. “I told her that I can’t be with you 24/7, translating for you and helping you. You have to do it on your own.’

That’s where the family environment that Buckeyes field hockey represents kicked in.

“I started meeting the girls and getting to know them,” Esther said. “They really helped me and were supporting me all the time.”


“I started meeting the girls and getting to know them. They really helped me and were supporting me all the time.”


Ask anyone around the team and they’ll tell you that she’s now the one initiating chatter.

“She’s constantly making us laugh on and off the field,” assistant coach Kate Lipton said. “She’s one you have to keep an eye on or she’ll come kick your stick out from underneath you. She’s definitely a good presence around the group.”

Ohio State Buckeyes

“She’s constantly making us laugh on and off the field. She’s one you have to keep an eye on or she’ll come kick your stick out from underneath you. She’s definitely a good presence around the group.”


Currently, Esther is having a career year with 10 goals and four assists. Her infectious smile is as wide as Buckeye Varsity Field.

She’s come quite a long way from those first few weeks.

 

Ohio State Buckeyes

“She’s not that little shy freshman from just outside of Barcelona,” Pardi said. “She’s a strong young woman who makes her own opinions, talks to her teammates, and is becoming a leader.”

On Sunday, she will look to lead the No. 23 Buckeyes past the Scarlet Knights and into the Big Ten semifinals.