Bartra is a defender on and off field

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Bartra is a defender on and off field

Senior Pol Bartra, a 6'2 center back, is looking to come back from a foot injury to lead the Matadors to a Big West title. (Raul Martinez / The Sundial)

Senior Pol Bartra, a 6'2 center back, is looking to come back from a foot injury to lead the Matadors to a Big West title. (Raul Martinez / The Sundial)

Senior Pol Bartra, a 6'2 center back, is looking to come back from a foot injury to lead the Matadors to a Big West title. (Raul Martinez / The Sundial)

Senior Pol Bartra, a 6'2 center back, is looking to come back from a foot injury to lead the Matadors to a Big West title. (Raul Martinez / The Sundial)

Edemy Rodriguez

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After this season, redshirt junior defender Pol Schonhofer Bartra will have to decide whether or not to return home—25 hours away—or stay in the United States and pursue his dreams.

After playing soccer in Barcelona, Spain for 18 years, Bartra had colleges such as Cal Poly Pomona, University California, Santa Barbara, and Penn State, pursuing him to play soccer, but he felt CSUN was the right choice for him seeing that they had a lot to offer for Kinesiology majors and soccer athletes.

“There is a really good program here at CSUN, and I am learning a lot of things here,” said Bartra.

Before arriving in Northridge, he grew up watching Ronaldinho who joined FC Barcelona in 2003 and Bartra has been a fan ever since.

“He changed football in Barcelona, and brought happiness to all the fans and people of my generation,” said Bartra.

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Bartra is a native of Barcelona, Spain, where his father played on different professional teams. Photo credit: Vincent Nguyen

His father, Hans Schonhofer, also played soccer with professional clubs in Spain and he not only coaches the Juniors FC club in Barcelona, but is also the director of the club where Pol was also a part of before coming to CSUN.

Bartra says he has been lucky to have his father as his own personal coach.

“When I was a kid, he was always telling me what I did well and what I had to improve after every game,” said Bartra.

In addition to his father, his mom, a former gymnast, also played an important role in his life.

“She is and will always be an athlete, but she has always helped me grow as a person in this case with my studies, academics, and life in general,” said Bartra.

As the oldest out of three children, he has already paved a future for his brother and sister to look up to. Bartra was raised to go out and get what he wants at all cost, and with that he learned his way through fitting in and adapting to a whole different environment away from home.

“I am a role model for both of them especially for my brother who would like to do the same thing like me to study and play in the U.S.,” said Bartra.

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Junior defender Bartra is a former All-Big West Conference Freshman Team selection. Photo credit: Raul Martinez

He arrived at CSUN not knowing how to speak a lot of English, but that did not stop him from getting himself out there to learn his way through campus and begin his journey. With his experience of being lost and new to not just the school, but also to the state he found himself helping international students that were in his same position as him four years ago and felt the need to welcome them the same way he was welcomed.

“I was scared at the beginning, but now I feel like home here,” said Bartra.

Bartra came to the United States looking to do more than what his parents expected from him with the opportunity to study overseas and live the American dream, he will be leaving with a strong amount of wins under his cleats with 15 wins in 2013 and the determination of doing just as good or better this year.

Going into his senior year, he is more than excited to give it his all.

“Soccer is in my veins, in my family,” said Bartra. “I have family here, we are a bunch of international players in the roster and guys from other states, and we have a good cohesion.

Steven Manios, who has known Bartra for two years now, and considers him more than a teammate.

“Pol is the craziest guy I have ever met, and is always 100 miles an hour,” said Manios.

And as part of the family, Bartra’s large personality has added a new dimension to the team.

Patrick Hickman has known Bartra since they started as freshmen at CSUN, and sees him as a great teammate who has everyone’s back on the field.

“His personality is really important to the team, because he lightens the mood and makes people laugh,” said Hickman.

Despite his outgoing personality, the transition of living on a 9 hours away from his family has been hard, but still, he felt welcomed as a Matador by everyone on the men’s soccer team when he joined in 2012. Since then, he knew there was no turning back as he aspires to either play soccer professionally, or find a job related to sports, after he obtains his degree in Kinesiology.

Bartra is currently in the U.S. under a student visa, and plans to obtain a working visa or green card to continue onto making someone out of himself after graduation next year in May 2016.

However, he is thankful for everyone that has been guided, supported and helped him in his path away from the home he calls Barcelona. In spite of his unique situation, he still acknowledges that the team is dependent on the sum of its parts.

“There’s no top star player, everyone’s a part of the team,” said Bartra.

The team will be key especially since Bartra will be playing this season with a broken foot, and will go through the pain for his love for soccer.

“I would like to see full stands every weekend; we have about 40,000 students in the school,” said Bartra. “So there’s no excuse why anyone should not come when the entrance is free.”