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STU Alumni Making Sports History

He’s from Venice, but yet he’s never been on a gondola.

That’s OK, though, because Davide Favaro’s life has been a fun ride all on its own – from pro soccer player in his native Italy to earning a Master’s degree at St. Thomas University and, in February of 2022, leading St. Brendan High School to the first boys’ soccer state title in school history.

Favaro, 38, is from Mirano, which he describes as a “small town” in the province of Venice.

Rather than the famed gondola rides of Venice, however, Favaro was busy kicking soccer balls, a pursuit that began when he was just six years old.

At age 20, however, adversity struck while playing soccer.

“I broke everything in my knee that you could break,” Favaro said.

Favaro never fully recovered, but he played pro soccer until age 30, mostly in Italy’s third division.

While playing, he found the time to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Padua.

When he retired from playing in 2014, Favaro said he “decided to take a chance”, leaving his country to come to Miami.

It turned out to be a great decision.

While in his adopted home city of Miami, Favaro met his wife, Ana, a native of Colombia. Also in Miami, Favaro graduated from St. Thomas University, earning a Master’s degree in Sports Administration.

Favaro said he found STU by doing online research, looking for a university with a great sports administration program – preferably on the East Coast and in a city where he could simultaneously learn English and Spanish.

STU met all his criteria, and, while on campus, Favaro met Bobcats men’s soccer coach Feliks Mats, who asked him to become his assistant.

Voila!

A coaching career was born.

“Davide is a great person and a great coach,” Mats said. “He knows the game very well.”

Favaro said coaching came naturally to him.

“I can’t stay away from a soccer field for long,” Favaro said. “When I met Coach Mats, I found out there was a need for an assistant. (Mats) is a big inspiration to me.”

From those humble beginnings in coaching, Favaro landed the job at St. Brendan, which had never been to the playoffs in soccer. Six years later, Favaro led the Sabres to a 1-0 win over Orlando’s Bishop Moore Catholic High School for the Class 4A state championship.

“It was an unbelievable moment for the kids,” Favaros said, “and for the school.”

For the Sabres, it was their first boys’ state title in any sport since a baseball championship in 1983, an incredible 39-year gap between titles.

But while Favaro was basking in the glow of the improbable championship, former St. Thomas University baseball player JC Gil – now the athletic director at Mater Lakes High School – was putting up an “Employee Wanted” sign for a new boys’ soccer coach.

“We were looking to make a splash with this hire,” Gil said.

Gil contacted Favaro in mid-May, just three months after he led St. Brendan to that historic championship.

“As soon as we had our first phone conversation, I said, ‘We’re going to wait for this guy,’” Gil said of Favaro. “We put the rest of the hiring process on the side. It was either going to be him or … him.”

In other words, Favaro or bust.

Favaro took the job at Mater Lakes, in part because the school is just three miles from his home in Miami Lakes.

“But it wasn’t an easy decision,” said Favaro, 38. “I had an amazing experience in my six years (at St. Brendan).”

At Mater Lakes, there is a larger pool of boys and thus more prospective soccer players than at St. Brendan, which had roughly 1,200 students last year, including 900 girls.

In addition, Favaro will also coach Mater Lakes’ middle-school team, which will give those players a huge head start years before they reach the varsity.

“Mater Lakes has a tradition of good players in the area,” Favaro said. “It’s an ambitious school. They want to win in all sports.”

Indeed, Mater Lakes reached the Class 4A boys’ soccer regional semifinals as recently as 2019-2020, and the program’s potential is vast with Favaro at the helm.

Once Favaro was hired, he started installing his program, and it’s clear that it won’t be a quick fix.

Favaro inherits a team that graduated 16 seniors off of last season’s roster.

“He’s a no-nonsense individual,” Gil said of Favaro. “He’s here for a purpose. He’s here to win.”

As for the gondola rides, more on that in one minute. First, it’s important to note that Favaro and Ana met when they were introduced by a mutual friend, Luisa.

“She told me, ‘I have the perfect guy for you.’ She told Davide, ‘I have the perfect girl for you,’” Ana said. “I didn’t believe her. But she was right. I fell in love.”

The couple met in 2017, married in 2018 – on Davide’s birthday, May 7 — and took their honeymoon to Italy in 2019.

But even though they were in Venice, the gondola ride never happened.

“The lines were long, and it was hot,” Ana said. “But we are definitely going next year.”

Kris Williams

Author Kris Williams

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