THE SPACE COAST DAILY – FRIDAY NIGHT LOCKER ROOM TEAM IS BREVARD'S #1 SPORTS SOURCE
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Games like Saturday afternoon are one of the main reasons that Thiago Pires decided to come to Eastern Florida State College.
Pires and the Titans will host Southern Union State College in a Southeast District game at 1 p.m. at Orlando Health Stadium in Melbourne. For the sophomore, it is another chance for his team to prove they belong among the best teams in the nation.
“Big games always come down to heart; how much does your heart want it compared to the other team,” Pires said.
“One of the best things Coach (Adam) Butler said is that you can only play the game in front of you and not to think about any games ahead of us; we are focused on Saturday and that game. I know they have put together an amazing plan and if we can stick to it, everything will work out.”
That environment and coaching staff were two reasons he knew EFSC was the right fit for him.
“There is a difference between just going to school and having a dream, and I feel everyone here has the same dream and can reach that goal of playing professionally,” Pires said.
“From the trainers to the team captains, everyone has a professional mindset which goes back to coach (Jeff) Carr and everyone in athletics.”
The sophomore defender has been driven to be better during each stop in his soccer journey, one that began with watching his father at the age of 4 or 5 in Boston.
“My father loved soccer and always played, but he did not have the opportunities that I have had, so he was playing in 30-over leagues with a bunch of old guys,” Pires remembered. “I would wake up at 8 a.m. and go watch him play; ever since I can remember I did that. He didn’t want me to play a lot of other sports, just soccer.”
His family moved to Brazil when he was 7 and that was when he truly fell in love with the sport.
“There was always a love of the game but it is in the heritage there, they make it fun and you never get tired of having fun, so you show up to work and have fun – it is cool,” Pires said.
In his sophomore year in high school, the family moved to Boca Raton, where he played high school soccer. After graduating, he decided to take a gap year and went to Ecuador to play.
“I have always looked to take my game to a higher level, even if that meant moving around,” Pires said. “And it brought me back to the United States to try and take a different route to playing professionally. Eastern Florida has definitely helped me.”
Over the past two seasons, Pires has started 15 of the 26 games. He has a goal and two assists this season.
“I started out as a midfielder but Coach (Adam) Butler sees things inside of you that you don’t see. I have always been diverse – I will play anywhere the team needs me. Maybe one day he will need a goalkeeper and I would try that. Hopefully not, but I would,” Pires said.
Now, he has embraced the role as one of the team’s defenders and has verbally committed to Florida Atlantic University next season.
“It is going to be good, going to be back home, and it is a program that also takes things very professionally. They joined the AAC and I am really excited about the opportunity,” Pires said.
“When I graduated high school, this seemed so far away. Not a lot of high schoolers can get this opportunity, but perseverance, just never giving up (is the key). Going into each year saying, ‘This is going to be my role and I will keep going.’
“And it isn’t done. After playing Division I, there is still a dream and I am going to try and get there.” If anyone has the desire to make it happen, Pires certainly does.
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