To say Bri Pinasco has soccer in her blood would be an understatement. South Carolina’s freshman midfielder started playing soccer at the age of three, and she has a long lineage of high-level play in her family that goes back a couple of generations.
“My dad (Adrian) is from Argentina, and his dad (Carlos) played for the national team there, and my dad played for a semi-pro team in Argentina,” said Pinasco, who is studying biology with aspirations of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. “Then my dad moved to the U.S. and started coaching soccer here, and he met my mom. My mom (Jennifer) played college soccer (at Newberry). I guess that’s why I grew into soccer. We can all relate.”
As you might imagine, soccer is a common talking point at the family dinner table.
“Every car ride. Every meal,” Pinasco said with a laugh. “It’s never ending. My mom always talks about the positive stuff. My dad can be really goofy when we’re not talking soccer, but with soccer he is helpful. It’s positive.”
Although her family had a lot of ties to the game, Pinasco said she didn’t feel pressure that she absolutely had to play the game and get to a high level.
“I never really thought about it as something I had to do,” Pinasco said. “I don’t think my dad was going to let me grow up and NOT play soccer though at some point. When I first started playing, I didn’t actually play. I’d sit out there picking at the grass and playing with the dirt. Eventually I figured out that I needed to start playing, and then I loved it. I stated young, and as time went on, I loved it more and more.”
For Pinasco, with the busy schedule, the desire to perform at a high level and win is there, but the joy in competing is what she loves about the game.
“Soccer is a very pretty game. From the inside, there is a lot that goes on that people on the outside don’t see or understand. It’s fun to just take people on, win balls from other people, play offense and defense, and the more versatile you are, the more positions you can play.”
“I worked hard to get here, and now I have to work even harder. It’s a journey.”
Pinasco was coached by her dad when she was younger, and although Adrian was enjoying a successful career as a boys’ high school coach in the local area, it wasn’t always easy to listen to what her dad was saying when he was wearing his coach’s hat.
“He would coach me in rec league and when I first started travel soccer, but I wasn’t always listening to what he was saying,” Pinasco said. “He also coached me my senior year of club soccer. I’d always think he wasn’t right. Then I’d later realize, OK, maybe he is right. I finally realized that about four or five years ago. He’s a very smart coach, but I would always try to be right.”
Pinasco’s family heritage has also opened up some opportunities to play internationally, as she has spent time playing for the Argentinian U-20 National Team after previously playing with the U-17 team.
“It has been a really good experience,” Pinasco said. “It’s a different type of soccer. They play more physically there on the girls’ side than we do here. I love the pride that they have in wearing their jersey. Everybody is like a family.”
For now, Pinasco is adjusting to playing in the SEC and working on how to improve herself physically and mentally.
“I’m learning how to fuel myself properly,” Pinasco said. “I’m training my mind to be positive. I’m learning how to stay calm and focused and get negative thoughts out of my head. It’s an adjustment to go from playing ninety minutes in high school, and playing a smaller amount here, and realizing that this is a process. I worked hard to get here, and now I have to work even harder. It’s a journey.”
Pinasco scored her first collegiate goal earlier this year against Coastal Carolina.
“I was sort of emotionless at first,” Pinasco said. “Then after that, it was like, wow! I felt on top of the world. Then you have to settle down and not get too high with the highs.”
As for her desire to get into the medical profession, Pinasco is not sure where that came from, but having opportunities at the University of South Carolina to shadow team doctors has fueled that passion as well. For now, she’s happy to be following in the footsteps of her parents and grandfather.
“I would love to play in the next World Cup,” Pinasco said. “Other than that, I want to keep my grades up as high as I can. I just want to have fun and enjoy every moment of college.”