Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Turnback Tuesday: Brito Finishing What His Coach Started

For Graciano Brito, the trailway to Quinnipiac was both unlikely and unpredictable. Growing up in Cape Verde, a scenic republic located off the Western Coast of Africa, Brito did not play one game of high school soccer.
"All my life I was a basketball player," said Brito, a former combo guard who operated offense for the 17-and-under Cape Verde national team. The kid had some springs, too. Hometown friends frequently recall Brito crushing home alley oop lobs and slithering into the paint, levitating to the rim with ease.

Brito also played on the 17-and-under national team in volleyball.
"I used to play 3-on-3 pickup games of soccer (in Cape Verde), but I wasn't into it. I wasn't as good as my friends. Basketball was my thing."
So what has Brito been doing on the pitch this season, scoring at will while establishing himself as the national's leading scorer?

The 6-foot-2 junior was simply proving that through commitment, an engine of perseverance, and a thorough work ethic ingrained by head coach Eric DaCosta, the road to success will straighten out.

Brito arrived in the United States at the age of 18, with little knowledge of the English language and no social or economic ties.

 During his high school years at Cape Verde, he maintained a passionate interest in the international business world, infiltrating the mindset of members of different cultures and discovering unique business plans overseas. Both the language barrier and access to a fiscally feasible higher education presented a challenge.
Brito moved in with an aunt in Bridgeport, Conn., picked up a soccer ball and quickly registered his presence on the playground/open gym scene. Brito, a freakishly athletic junior midfielder/forward, began carving up defenses in shark-size bites, turning many heads in games that featured collegiate players.
Bobcat coach Eric Da Costa got word of Brito's exploits from one of his players at Teikyo-Post, where Da Costa was coaching at the time. Cabral took Da Costa out to the parks to see this blur-quick, high-rising, and gear-changing Cape Verdian kid.
Da Costa was instantly sold, penning Brito as a top-profile recruit that Post wanted to invest four years in.
Brito red-shirted his first year at Post, getting acclimated to a new environment while focusing hard on his studies. Through arduous hours in the library, through his devotion to learning English via television, music, and his communication with teammates, Brito registered a 3.8 GPA during his second semester at Post.
After seeing him in the gym a couple times, Post basketball coach Mike Donnelly urged him to try out. But with school work, soccer, trying to master the learning curve, and his commitment to a part-time job at a grocery store taking up much of his schedule, Brito had to pass at the opportunity.
He credits Da Costa for helping him master the transition to the collegiate level. When Da Costa got the Quinnipiac job in the summer of 2004, he said he had to take Brito along with him.
“Eric Da Costa has been like a father to me,” said Brito, harkening back to his days as one of Da Costa’s early recruits.
 “We have a father-son relationship. What I learned about soccer, all of it, is what Eric has showed me.”
That’s not to say, however, through workman-like persistence and a painstaking work ethic both on the field and in the classroom, Brito has come a long way in a short period of time.
“It’s all about working hard to achieve what I want,” said Brito, an international business major.
Brito’s mother Camdida, who he credits for shaping his life and career, helped him buy into the notion of shouldering a titanic work ethic through all phases of life. 
It has certainly rubbed off on her son. Everyday, Brito makes a 30-minute commute back and forth from Bridgeport. After laboring through school and soccer, he reports to his night job as a store clerk.
“It’s all about what I want, I never thought in my life that I would be in college. I would never even think about graduating from college. I have the chance now, I have to take advantage of it. I’m just focused, and realizing that dream.”
Brito’s name has been etched in record-book lore this season.
Following a Northeast Conference Player of the Week award, Brito earned a spot on the College Soccer News National Team in mid-September. 

His sublime weekend was underscored by a hat trick and the game-winning goal in thrilling a 3-2 triumph of Army. Brito has emerged into the go-to-guy, netting five goals in the ‘Cats first four games of the season. Quinnipiac is off to a 4-0 start for the first time in program history.