FROM THE FIELD TO THE SIDELINES
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
Soccer runs through my veins. I had influence from both of my dads. Joni Casagrande, my biological dad, was a professional soccer player and passed the love for the game on to me from a young age. My stepdad José Marques also played professional but in the world of futsal! I started playing futsal when I was 6 years old but had to fight hard to earn my place among the boys, which would turn out to be a recurrent theme throughout my early career. Ten years later, professional women's soccer team, Atlético Mineiro, scouted me during one of my futsal tournaments and decided to give me my first big break as a professional player. I played as a left outside midfielder for two years, but always kept my plans to play for an American University in mind. With these plans in sight, I joined the American School in my hometown, Belo Horizonte, in 2009 where I continued to play soccer and prepared to go to college in the United States.
MY JOURNEY TO THE USA
In 2010 I accepted a full scholarship to play for the soccer team at Bowling Green State University where I got my Bachelor's degree in Pre-Medicine. After I graduated, I also played semi-profesionally during the Summer of 2017 at Toledo Villa. Moving to a different country definitely didn't come without its challenges, but I quickly found that the U.S. was the best place to be exposed to opportunities that would pave the way for my future career. I started volunteering for the Special Olympics and for organizations such as We Are One Team, which made me realize I was not ready to part ways with the sports environment. Therefore, I decided to pursue my master's degree in Kinesiology at Bowling Green State University and serve as the Sports Performance coach for the soccer team there.
INTRODUCTION TO SPORTS PERFORMANCE
I got my first experience as a sports performance coach with the Division I soccer team at Bowling Green State University. During my two years with them I realized that I had found my passion and wanted to keep growing in this field. During the Summer of 2016, I started interning for EXOS where I got the opportunity to work with professional soccer, tennis, and football players. This is when the foundation of my coaching philosophy was formed. In 2017, I saved all my pennies to be able to spend 2 months in Europe travelling around and learning from the best in the industry. I did mentorships with Arsenal FC (First team and academy teams), Aston Villa and FC Basel. In 2019, I went to Spain to do workshops and had the pleasure to visit youth clubs and educate young kids and coaches on youth development. Education is something that really moves me and drives me forward as a professional. My goal is to help young coaches and athletes to be the best version of themselves and use my life experiences to provide them with a different perspective
PROFESSIONAL COACHING CAREER
In 2018, I accepted a position with US Soccer as a Network Sport Scientist to provide support for all the girls youth national teams in the US. I was able to do camps with U-17, U-18, U-20's teams in different camps around the world. During 2018, I was also working as a Director of Sports Performance for a youth athletic training center called Redline Athletics. There, I was able to start something from the ground up and develop my own coaching philosophy when training the youth. I also developed a really cool internship program where I helped young coaches to develop their careers and guide them through their own process. At the end of March 2019, I decided to accept an amazing opportunity to be the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Orlando Pride, a professional team that competes in the NWSL. Since I started in April 2019, I have had so many learning moments and have been growing so much as a coach. In September 2020, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my professional career and leave Orlando Pride because of family and visa reasons. I embarked on an amazing journey with my wife and dog, moving all the way to England where I will soon be starting as a Sport Scientist at a FAWSL club. My passion is not only on coaching athletes but also on educating coaches and sharing my journey to learn from each other in our field.