Almost six years ago, longtime Wellington resident and polo player Luis Escobar was seriously injured after a collision during a high-goal competition at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
It was determined that Escobar had sustained a blood clot on his brain, and the recovery process was going to be arduous. But he was determined to return to the game he loved.
“Well, I don’t think I really knew how bad it was,” recalled Escobar, who was born in Costa Rica and started playing at the age of 7 under the tutelage of his father. “My friend Diana Palmer, who is an amazing therapist in California, told me how long before I would feel normal again. I was hoping she would say a year or two. Her answer was five years. Obviously, it was very depressing not only to hear that, but knowing if I came back in five years, I would be 48, almost 49.”
Escobar is still dealing with issues from the collision, but he is happy with the progress he has made.
“To this day, I work on many little things that are left over from the accident. But I can tell you that all the hard work has [paid off], and the five years came up to the day, when I played a final against Adolfo Cambiaso at the Grand Champions Polo Club,” he said.
Even though he lost that final last January, many things came together for Escobar.
“Five years after my accident, it reassured me that everything is possible if you put 100 percent effort in it,” Escobar said. “My dad always told me keep on trying and never give up. Consistency and determination are real.”
Escobar’s father, Francisco, founded the Santa Clara Polo Club in Wellington in 1984, and Luis expanded it, so it now encompasses more than 40 acres. While growing up, he and his family would travel back and forth from Costa Rica to Wellington to play polo during the winter before settling here permanently.
Today, Luis’ sons Lucas and Nico are part of the Escobar polo legacy, both making their mark as up-and-coming players. Nico will be playing in the high-goal Gauntlet of Polo series with La Indiana at IPC. Lucas is still trying to get on a high-goal team this season, but he is expected to play the medium-goal with his father, Alejandro Poma and Diego Cavanaugh.
Lucas and Nico both started polo when they were about five years old. Luis made it fun, and that made it easier for them to join in.
“I’ve played polo all my life, so it was natural for them to get into it,” said Luis, who attended Florida Atlantic University. “Wellington is where we live and where they were born. Georgette [Luis’ wife] is a huge supporter of them, and, of course, living in Wellington it is easy to be involved with polo. A lot of kids play in Wellington, so it’s easy to play when you have friends playing polo at a younger age.”
A lot of Luis’ classic style can be seen when watching his sons play.
“Ever since growing up, my father has taught me to hit the ball the first time,” said Lucas, who is a 2-goaler. “As kids, we would play little 3-on-3 games with a rule that we could only hit the ball once in a row. It has shaped me in the player I am today. I honestly don’t know who I take after in my playing style. I like to go forward and score goals; I prefer playing the 1 or 2 positions. I also can play back, but I love going forward.”
Nico, a 4-goaler, sees himself as playing a more traditional polo game. “The most I have learned from my father is to play a classical type of polo, making me a classical player,” he said. “I hear a lot of people say I play like my father; I’m not sure who I take after. I would like to create my own style one day.”
Off the field, the Escobars participate in several charity events and support the local community. After all, Luis met Georgette while enjoying Wellington’s social scene. Lucas and Nico like the casual lifestyle that makes Wellington special.
“To unwind, it’s always fun to hang out with friends and have a good laugh,” Lucas said. “I like going to the beach and playing other sports, like golf, football and soccer.”
“Lucas and I like to go to the beach with friends, play football and play Rollerblade polo,” Nico added.
Luis also has his favorite spots in Wellington and beyond.
“In a regular year, with no pandemic, I like to disconnect and try to go to the theater,” Luis said. “Even better, if we can get away, I love snow skiing. When in Wellington, we like to hang out quietly, go to the movies and go to some local classic restaurants like Short Stacks for a late breakfast or Park Avenue for some good ribs.”
Both Nico and Lucas have big goals for their future. In addition to playing in Wellington and Santa Barbara, they spent December in Argentina playing at La Aguada under the tutelage of former 10-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada.
“My goal is to become 10 goals,” said 20-year-old Nico, who attends Palm Beach Atlantic University. “In the next five years, I plan to get to 8 goals and be playing the Argentine Open.”
“In the next five years, I plan to be around 7 or 8 goals,” said 18-year-old Lucas, a senior at the Palm Beach International Academy. “I hope by that time to be playing the Argentine Open with my brother Nico.”
While the brothers are dreaming and planning their future, Luis has had plenty of victories and memories.
“I have played with my dad and both my sons in different tournaments,” Luis said. “Even my brother Federico has played on the same team. That’s always fun. A recent memory that I will never forget was with my dad’s team. He sat down, and my brother Federico played for him. That day we won the America Cup final in California — my brother Federico, Santi Toccalino, Lucas — and Lucas won Most Valuable Player, and I won Best Playing Pony. Later that day, Nico won the final of the Silver Cup with Lucchese and also won Most Valuable Player. It was an amazing day for me and my family.”
Learn more about the Escobar family at www.santaclarapoloclub.com.