"Chapman University isn't just an institution of higher education, it's a family." - Chapman University
The 2018 men's soccer team quite literally embodies this phrase as you can find two Howes and two Matteonis in the line of starters at Ernie Chapman Stadium on game day.
First you have Kai and Toby Howe. Kai is a senior forward and Tobi is a freshman forward, both from Tokyo, Japan. Playing on the same team is no stranger to the 3-year difference duo. When Kai was a senior in high school Tobi played on the team as a freshman as well.
"It is a really similar situation to before," Kai added. "It is just really weird being in America now, we were together in Japan before and being together over here is different."
"Kai and I both grew up playing on Japanese club soccer teams for the majority of our lives, and are more comfortable speaking in Japanese while we are playing," explained Tobi. "It makes things a lot easier when I can yell something out at Kai in either Japanese or English, and I know he will understand what I am saying. Sometimes, we exchange tactics mid-game in Japanese to throw off the opponents and to gain an edge on the game."
Tobi recently left Tokyo to come to Chapman, following in the footsteps of Kai who left four years ago. Kai acknowledged his minor influence on his brother's choice to attend the university, but credited Tobi's decision to become a Panther mainly on his love for the area and what the school had to offer.
"Knowing someone at Chapman University such as Kai that talked so highly of the athletics program and the school itself made my decision so much easier," Tobi said.
The experience of playing on the same team seems to be a rewarding one for the Howe brothers as well, on and off the field. "There is always that connection, it is easier to play with your brother and it is a lot of fun," Kai explained. "I think going to college you develop a better relationship together, you are both independent but you have to look out for one another as well being so far away from home."
The two brothers seem to be building their relationship in college on and off the field. "When I first arrived in California, I was lost and had no idea how to go about things," Tobi recalled. "Kai took me to set up my bank account. set up my phone, grocery shopping, and to buy things for my dorm. Without him, I would have struggled tremendously. Even now, he is always offering to take me to the store if I ever need anything and he is always inviting me over to his house. In return, I get him a sandwich from the cafeteria once in a while."
Then you have Jarod and Zack Matteoni. Jared is a junior defender and Zack is a freshman defender, both from San Jose, Calif. They have never been able to play on the same team due to their age difference before Zack's arrival at Chapman, making their current ability to play on the same field a rewarding experience.
"Jarod already knows a lot about the team, the coach, and our play style so it is very easy for me to talk to him about those sorts of things since we are siblings," Zack explained. "Also, it's just fun to be able to play soccer with my brother since I never really got to play much with him before college. The only challenging part is having to live up to his reputation."
Jarod brought up the fact that having his younger brother on the back line with him can improve in-game communication and his own personal ability to produce the best results.
"We obviously know each other pretty well and, even though I had never played with him before, I have watched a lot of his soccer games throughout his life," Jarod stated. "Just being able to see what kind of player he is helps determine how I can best play with him when we are on the same field."
Both Zack and Jarod acknowledged their effort to keep the fact that Jarod was already a Chapman student out of Zack's decision to attend although they are both pleased with his choice. Jarod mentioned his desire to show Zack why he loved the university so much but wanted the decision to be solely his brothers.
"My brother going here did open my eyes to this school as a potential option, but did not factor into my final decision to attend Chapman," Zack explained. "Chapman had the perfect number of students, had the minor I am interested in (Analytics), a great location, and great weather."
Zack described his brother as a huge role model on the field, "he is a good, physical defender that will nearly always win the ball, and he is also incredibly calm when he has the ball." Off the field Jarod is a "bar to try to overcome. If he does well on something, I strive to do better than he did," said Zack.
Jarod tossed in their shared love of kicking the ball around in the backyard with their two dogs at home, playing FIFA in an extremely competitive manner, and their occasional and normal brotherly conflicts.
It is no secret that the two sets of blood-bonded players have been a driving force thus far in the 2018 season. All four of them have been starting and during a game on Sep. 10, the Howe brothers teamed up for a game-winning goal in double overtime. Tobi found his brother on the edge of the box and Kai shot it into the lower left side to secure the win. It is clear to see that the sibling on-field communication and teamwork – that both sets of brothers spoke so highly of – is working for the Panthers.
By Chloe DeVries