Davie, Florida: Calvin and Conner Rezende have traveled the world from Spain, Brazil, and Italy to follow their dream of playing pro soccer. Little did they know in January of 2016 they would end up signing their first professional contract with the Miami FC, less than 30 miles from home.
The South Florida natives who hail from Davie, Florida have played for Weston FC and Sunrise Elite through their youth playing careers on the road to professional soccer. They are current midfielders and are the only current twins in the United States to play professional soccer, let alone on the same team. They attended high school at NOVA Southeastern (9th-11th) and graduated from Western High School.
They recently sat down with Mike McMullen, The Rezende Twins Media Director and talked about what it has meant to them on the journey to play pro soccer.
(Calvin Rezende's responses are indicated by the abbreviation CJR and Conner's by CSR.)
Mike: Where, when and what age did your start playing soccer in Broward County?
CJR: We both started playing soccer at the age of 4 with our local Davie recreational team.
Mike: What clubs did you play for and what dates?
CJR: Davie from 1997 to 1999. Plantation from 1999-2000, 2002-2003. Parkland from 2003-2005. Boca from 2001-2002, 2005-2006. Sunrise from 2006-2009. Weston from 2000-2001,2009-2010.
Mike: What were your fondest memories of playing with those clubs?
CSR: Playing in the Disney Showcase with Weston FC is a great memory. Thay is where the University of Virginia (National Champs that year - 2011) scouted me and my brother.
CJR: Looking back at all of those local club teams, I established many long term friendships while playing for these local clubs (especially Sunrise). All the road trips in small cramped minivans to games out of state are the clearest memories. Although a pain back then, it is a great memory now.
Mike: Who was your favorite youth coach or coaches while playing for Weston or Sunrise and why?
CJR and CSR: Our favorite youth coach was our father. He coached us in Davie and was an assistant coach in Sunrise. To be honest, he coached us throughout our whole lives. Only playing on the streets in Brazil, he certainly had (and still has) a natural intelligence for a high-level game.
The other coach was Pedro Magallanes (an Argentinian superstar back in his day). He played with the great Maradona. Pedro was our private trainer since a very young age and when he decided to create a local sunrise travel soccer team he invited us to play for him. He has such an overwhelming amount of knowledge for the game and passed on as much as he could to us as aspiring young soccer players. Thanks to those two we are professionals today!
Mike: Who did you look up to while as a youth player in South Florida while growing up?
CJR: I looked up to Pedro Magallanes. Although I never mentioned it before, he really inspired me to be the best I can be. Knowing that he played at the highest level and always believed in me as a player, kept me moving forward even through life’s rough patches.
CSR: I looked up to (Brazilian) Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. I always watch their highlight videos when I am feeling discouraged or when I am feeling confident. Their talent impresses me more than anyone and pushes me to continue to improve.
Mike: How does it feel signing with Miami FC so close to home?
CJR: It is a dream come true because not only am I a professional, I am recovering all the lost time with my family (during my Brazil and European journey without family at a young age was a struggle).
CSR: Throughout my whole youth years I believed I would be playing professionally abroad by myself or with my brother. Signing my first professional contract with Miami FC doesn’t feel realistic because I get the best of both worlds (being with family and playing professional).
Mike: What are your short-term goals as a player and where do you see yourself in 3 years from now?
CJR: My short term goals are to improve in my weak areas as a player. With my experience as a soccer player, I know soccer is too unpredictable to try and envision where you will be in the future. However, I would like to believe every year I will make progress.
CSR: My short term goals as a player are to strengthen any and every area that needs improvement whether it’s physical, tactically or technically. I try not to look too far into my future. However, I never want to plateau. I want to make progress every year.
Mike: What steps did you take to make it to the professional level?
CJR and CSR:
Step 1: Starting at the age of 13 our dad took us to Brazil and we trained every summer with professional teams like Goias, Gremio, and Cruzeiro. Our dad wanted us to gain further perspective on the game. Although the U.S. soccer has been improving, the system was really poor during our childhood. Brazil really helped us with technique and passion. We noticed for the first time how soccer in Brazil was ‘a way out’ of the poor lifestyle.
Step 2: We sacrificed a lot of education and family time. After our junior year of high school (with University school) my brother, dad, and I left our sister and mom to live in Brazil for 6 months. We trained with a developmental club in Sao Paulo during this time called Taboao da Serra. Then after our first year of College with the University of Virginia we left the states again for Europe this time. This time, it was just the two of us.
Step 3: We both came back to the states to get back into the U.S. system, played for the PDL team Michigan Bucks, and then tried out for Miami FC.
Mike: Growing up in Davie, Fl did you ever expect to me in this position?
CJR: No. I expected to be thousands of miles from home. I prepared myself mentally for years that I would have to leave my entire family, but I am here in Miami now with family.
CSR: Up until I finished my eligibility of soccer in college, I expected to be in Brazil or Europe playing professionally with Calvin. Never did I imagine myself starting my career in the United States.
Mike: What advice would you have for younger players who have the same dream as you do to make it to the professional level?
CJR: I would not hide the fact that sacrifices will be made, you will struggle (often enough to want to make you quit) and there will be people who enjoy seeing you during your hardest times and not help you. Family and faith will guide you.
CSR: I couldn’t agree more with Calvin’s advice. I would also add that it requires patience and persistence to make it to the professional level…Not a few weeks or months but years of patience and persistence. Also, I’d say to always dream big, don’t dream of becoming a professional soccer player but rather becoming the best soccer player in the world. It is like the old saying “Shoot for the moon and if you miss at least you’ll be among the stars”.
Mike: Can you explain what it means to be the only set of twins currently playing in the US? How special is it to be playing with your brother?
CJR: If we are not the only set of twins we are certainly a very small fraction of sets of twins playing together at the pro level. I can only say that I am very humbled for this opportunity and will not take it for granted. To be playing at the pro level with my twin brother is surreal. It means a lot because we constantly keep each other on our toes and keep improving because of this. We have been through the worst of the worst and the best of the best together, so it is an honor to be able to train/play on the same team another year.
CSR: It is not only special to have my twin brother play on the same team as me but it is an experience that goes beyond words. As twins, we seem to have an innate ability to anticipate each other’s moves and actions on the field. Part of our strength is not only being on the same team but actually playing at the same time. We have a healthy competition between the two of us. We are always looking out for each other in the best possible way.
Social Media for the Twins:
Calvin Rezende Twitter @calvinrezende, Facebook- www.facebook.com/calvinjrezende
Conner Rezende Twitter @connerrezende22, Facebook—www.facebook.com/connersrezende
(Mike McMullen is the Media Director for the Rezende Twins. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA and is a self-employed political consultant. He was a former USSF National Referee and refereed at the professional level for 13 years. He can be reached at @carpediem30th on Twitter, email@example.com via email and 724-612-9042 if you have any questions.)