Ex-soccer star turns URI coursework into job with New England Revolution

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 11, 2012 – As a boy, University of Rhode Island senior Justin Resendes dreamed of playing professional soccer, and as an all-state honoree and captain of his high school team, he seemed well on his way to achieving his goal. But his mindset changed dramatically in college, and now instead of seeking to play professionally, he is focused on becoming a professional soccer coach.

“When I got to college I found that my fitness level wasn’t quite where it needed to be to compete at the Division 1 level, and I wasn’t really even sure how to prepare myself for it,” explained Resendes, a Cumberland resident who helped lead his LaSalle Academy team to a national ranking his senior year. “I started to learn fitness here at URI by studying kinesiology, taking weight training classes and learning about anatomy and how to train properly.”

He was a fast learner. And thanks to his newfound knowledge, his enthusiasm, and his soccer skills, Resendes was invited in 2011 to join the staff of the New England Revolution, not as a player but as a coach of its youth academy teams for players in the under-16 and under-18 age groups. He coached some of the region’s top young soccer players throughout the last school year, and then he spent the summer as an administrative intern coordinating the Revolution’s residential academy.

“We brought in 180 players from all over the Northeast, and I was responsible for all the logistics, from determining their training sessions to setting up college prep courses for everybody,” Resendes said. “It was really different from coaching, but I had a lot of responsibility and learned a lot of things that I need to progress as a coach.”

Among his many responsibilities, Resendes applied his URI coursework to designing fitness programs to prepare his players to compete at the college level.

“It was a good feeling to be able to help players in a way that I didn’t even understand myself just a couple years ago,” he said. “Some players don’t know what it takes to get to the next level, so it was satisfying to help them get there.”

In addition to working with the youth players, Resendes traveled throughout the region to recruit players to the academy teams, and he joined the professional players in organizing soccer clinics in some of the cities in which they played.

“It was a great experience to observe the pro team, hang around with the players, and learn how they stay fit,” said Resendes. “It was great to see how what I’m learning in class translates into how professional teams test the fitness level of their players.”

Resendes will complete his URI bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in December, and he has already been offered a job with the Revolution as soon as he graduates.

“They told me they want me around as much as possible. They want me to be a part of the organization into the future,” he said. “There have been academy coaches who have gone on to coach the professional team, so I’m hoping that could be in my future.”

Resendes is working on getting his premiere level national coaching license and his strength and conditioning license so he is ready for the next big step. But he also knows that he has a great deal to offer younger players.

“I really like working with the youth teams,” he said. “I was in their shoes not too long ago, training for college, hoping for a future in the pros. I have a lot to offer them and look forward to giving them everything I can.

“I admit that it was hard going from playing at LaSalle and for the Rhode Island Stingrays semi-pro team to not playing competitively any more, but I’ve transferred my focus to helping others. I know that this is the better path for me. I want to help others succeed.”

Pictured above

URI senior Justin Resendes (right), with soccer legend Pele and fellow New England Revolution Academy Coach Kyle Teixeira.

Photo submitted by Justin Resendes