Family affair: Mens’ soccer siblings talk competition

From left to right, freshman Zack Matteoni, junior Jared Matteoni, senior Kai Howe and freshman Tobi Howe. The Howe brothers are from Tokyo, Japan, and the Mattenoi brothers grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo by Gabriella Anderson

When Kai Howe’s younger brother moved from Tokyo, Japan to Southern California this year, Kai Howe helped move him into his dorm, set up a cell-phone service, and buy college essentials, like groceries, for his younger brother.

Senior soccer captain, Kai Howe, and his brother Tobi Howe, a freshman, have played soccer together their whole lives, they said. Now, they both play offense for the Chapman men’s soccer team.

Kai Howe and Tobi Howe have a strong connection since they’ve been playing together for so long, they said, and it’s easy for them to predict what the other person might do during a game.

“It’s just easier playing with each other because we’ve grown up doing the same thing and we’ve grown up kicking the ball around in the backyard,” Tobi said.

The Howe brothers say they compete in everything, from soccer to video games, but they know when to collaborate for the good of the team.

Head coach Eddie Carillo, who has two daughters who play soccer together, said it’s great to watch the brothers play on the same team.

“I don’t see them getting on their brothers more than they would the other players,” he said. “They just treat them like regular teammates.”

While the Howe brothers grew up playing together, another pair of brothers on the Chapman soccer team, junior captain Jared Matteoni and freshman Zack Matteoni, are playing together for the first time in their lives.

The Matteoni brothers both play defense, which they said helps them understand each other’s approach to the game.

“I think it helps it just because (Jared) already knows the play styles. He knows all the teams we play, he knows all the teammates really well, so he can help me with that,” Zack Matteoni said. “It’s comfortable to have someone you know so well playing next to you.”

While developing the skills is the top priority in practice, Jared Matteoni said it’s important for everyone on the team to feel comfortable around one another.

“With my brother, that’s super easy and natural,” Jared Matteoni said. “It’s definitely nice, having him back in my life since, when I was here for my first two years, I barely saw him. So now, having him with me again, it’s pretty cool.”

Tobi said his choice to come to Chapman was not based on Kai Howe’s attendance, but, as he is an international student, it helped having his brother already at Chapman.

“Tobi came and visited me once and he loved (Chapman) as well,” Kai Howe said. “It was like a perfect fit for him. It just ended up happening.”

Tobi Howe said the move from Tokyo to Orange was a big change, but he said attending an American school in Japan meant he wasn’t shocked by the culture change.

Tobi Howe and Kai Howe are international students, but Jared Matteoni and Zack Matteoni grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zack Matteoni had a better sense of what Southern California was like, Carillo said, because he could visit his brother often.

Kai Howe said even though he is a senior, he is still learning from his younger brother.

“We’ve definitely gotten closer in recent years and it’s been a lot of fun,” Kai Howe said. “On the field, we’re harsh on each other, but it’s good, positive criticism. We’re always trying to get better and we know we can be better for each other.”

When Kai Howe graduates in the spring of 2019, Tobi Howe wants to establish his presence on the field.

“Since (my brother is) three years older, I know where I want to be in three years,” Tobi Howe said. “I know I want to be even better than he is.”