Soccer a Family Affair for Ellington Siblings

For James and Emily Costanzo, soccer is a life-long, family affair.

The twins, now seniors at Ellington High School, started playing in preschool, where James calls Emily the “grass picker.”

“I hated it,” said Emily. “I would cry every game. I never wanted to go and he was always so excited. My mom said I had to keep going because she said if James was doing it, I had to keep doing it.”

That decision has worked out well as Emily, who like James, is now an All-State player. She has also been recruited to play soccer for UConn next year.

Both James and Emily wear No. 6, an homage to their grandfather – he also wore No. 6 – who passed away from ALS two years ago.

James and Emily both admitted that they have a healthy competition between the two of them.

“One time, I remember I scored two goals and was feeling really great about myself,” said James. “Emily gets home and she had scored a hat trick. It’s great to win the game and to score, but it’s also the competition within ourselves.”

At the same time though, they are also each other’s biggest fans. After James scored the game-winner with 1.7 seconds left in the state semifinals last year, he ran to the stands and gave Emily a big hug.

“I have never been more proud than at that moment,” said Emily. “It’s the best feeling in the world when I know that he succeeds.”

James echoed those sentiments, saying, “I told Emily after she got recruited at UConn, the only person I like to succeed more than myself is her.”

The siblings play different positions, so they use that to their advantage – using each other to get into the mind of those they are playing against. They also go practice together quite a bit, pushing each other and toughening each other up.

Emily feels that playing against her brother has been a huge help.

“Having a male teach you what you’re doing, it’s different,” she said. “I’m a very aggressive player. I grew up playing with him. If you fell down, you had to get up, you’re playing with James so that’s how you had to do it.”

And she can hold her own against her brother, who is one minute older.

“She’s in amazing shape and as the boy, I feel like I have to beat her, but we’re pretty much equal,” said James. “She could absolutely play on our team – without a doubt.”

Both siblings are looking to have strong seasons with their teams this year. No matter what happens, this season will be bittersweet, as it is the last one.

“It feels like the end of an era, for lack of a better term,” said Emily.

The twins – who say they are more similar than different, feel the same way about most things, and finish each other’s sentences – don’t get to see each other play often, so when they do, it’s very special.

James is undecided on a college as of yet, but with Emily going to UConn, that has increased his chances of going there as well.

“I would love to be able to go to all the games and watch her,” he said.

James feels like Emily going to UConn to play soccer is groundbreaking for the Ellington program.

“It’s easy to look at [former male players] who have gone on,” he said. “Obviously UConn is a big Division I program so it’s cool – and for the younger kids [to see]. I think it’s cool that she’s setting a mark for what can be achieved, even in a small town like Ellington.”

Emily and James Costanzo, seen here at age 4 or 5, started playing soccer in preschool and are now both All-State players. Photo courtesy of the Costanzo family.

Emily and James Costanzo, seen here at age 4 or 5, started playing soccer in preschool and are now both All-State players. Photo courtesy of the Costanzo family.

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