Brandon Brito has never backed down from a challenge or a goal. For example, during his junior year at Boston College, Brito tried out for the Eagles’ top-shelf, Division 1, Power Five, ACC football team.
“It was my dream since I was 11 years old to play football for the Eagles,” said Brito. “I didn’t make the team at BC because I hadn’t worked hard enough in high school.”
During his Revere High football career, Brito certainly earned the respect of every teammate and coach. The team will remember when the then- 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound lineman suffered a torn meniscus and sprained ACL (knee) injury in his senior season, but he valiantly played hurt through the remainder of the year. Recognizing Brito’s guts and commitment to the team, head coach Lou Cicatelli presented two special coach’s awards to the senior captain at the annual banquet.
A member of the National Honor Society at Revere High School where he was a 2016 graduate, Brito attended Framingham State University where he played football. He then transferred to Boston College, one of the most prestigious schools in the country, and majored in Film Studies at the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences. He completed a senior-year, independent study film project (similar to a thesis) that was pretty much unprecedented at the school.
“I talked with my academic adviser, John Michalczyk, who is a well-known documentary filmmaker at Boston College,” said Brito. “We discussed going overseas and making a film. I thought about going to Italy, bit I wanted to give BC something they hadn’t seen before and my choice was Cape Verde.
He explained his inspiration for the project.
“I had been watching some soccer highlights on television and my thought was, ‘Why don’t I ever hear about Cape Verdean soccer – what is soccer like on the Islands?’ “Cape Verdeans are very prideful people, why isn’t there a representation of this?”
Funded by a grant from the Salmanowitz Program for Moral Courage in Film, Brito launched his documentary film that is titled, “Kicking on Rocks: Football in Cabo Verde.”
Working on the documentary 3,000 miles from home
In January, Brandon Brito was accompanied on the trip to Cape Verde, Africa by his father, Ananias, who is a native of Cape Verde and moved to the United States in 1981.
Brandon’s mother, Maria Valentini-Brito, is originally from Italy and grew up in the North End. Brandon has an older brother, Christian, who works at Harvard, and a younger brother, Matthew, who is a junior at Boston College.
“My father was my assistant in making the film – he knows Cape Verde very well and he has a lot of connections there,” credits Brandon. “He was a big help and we had a really good chance to bond with each other.”
Brandon said his father was also helpful in communications with Cape Verdeans.
“The official language is Portuguese because it is a Portuguese colony but the everyday people speak Creole. I can speak a little bit of Creole,” said Brandon.
In the 35-minute documentary, Brito interviewed “a number of footballers from three different teams” about the hardships they face in advancing in their sports.
“For example, one of the teams did not have a lot of direction or funding – it was humble, rock-bottom kind of team – but they were one of my favorite teams to talk to,” related Brito.
Brandon and his father traveled to Brava, the smallest island in Cape Verde, where his father spent his childhood years.
“We talked to two of the better teams from that island and we got to see their headquarters and where they hold their fundraisers,” said Brandon. “From there we went to Santiago, and we talked with the elite teams, where some of the best players in the country train at academies,” said Brandon.
He feels he accomplished his objective in the documentary which has been well received in Cape Verde and the United States.
“The documentary is a look at Cape Verdean soccer and the hardships and limitations that players and coaches have when it comes to competing for the national team or going to the next level, and just getting recognition,” said Brandon. “There are lot of obstacles the players face – it’s not like many other countries where scouts come and evaluate the players for advancement to a higher level of soccer.”
Brito’s soccer documentary was selected for entry in the Cape Verdean-American Film Festival in Massachusetts. “I’m excited about the film – so far it’s been getting good reviews,” said Brandon. Residents can view his works on the Brandon Brito Youtube channel.
Last summer, Brito produced his first documentary, “There Is No Off-Season,” which featured the Revere High football team’s training in preparation for the season. “Their hard work as shown in the film paid off,” said Brito. “They had a great season. They were 10-1 and a game shy of the Super Bowl. We all enjoyed seeing them have success.”
Brandon is branching out in his career. He also does screenwriting and acting, having appeared in some Boston College students’ films in acting roles. He said his affinity for dramatic performance began in Revere where he appeared in school plays and talent shows.
For now, after excelling at Boston College and proudly representing his city, this outstanding young man of many talents is setting out in pursuit of his goals.
“It would be a dream to start a Black-owned production company in Revere – I would love that,” said Brandon.
His years in the Revere school system
Brandon attended the Garfield School for pre-school, kindergarten and through eighth grade. “Paula DiSalvo was my pre-school teacher,” recalled Brito. “I was at Garfield for 10 years and then it was on to Revere High School in 2012,” recalled Brandon.
He began his athletic career at the age of four in Revere youth sports, participating in the T-Ball division at McMackin Field. “My dad was the coach, but I wasn’t on the team for long,” said Brandon. “From there, I played Revere Youth Soccer from 2003 to 2007 and then I discovered my love for football.”
He played Middle School and Parks Recreation basketball and excelled in youth football. In high school, Brito was a three-year starting lineman – guard, center, tackle, and defensive end – and two-year captain in Coach Lou Cicatelli’s RHS program.
“I was a flex player – wherever Coach Cicatelli needed me to play, I did it,” said Brito. “I was 215 pounds then, but now I’m at 195.”
Brito took several AP courses and was an honor roll student at Revere High.
“I had so many inspirational teachers at Revere High,” said Brito. “I have to start with Ms. [Nancy] Barile. She sees things in her students and she knows who has potential and she reaches out to you and she gives you as many opportunities that she can get for you. Another teacher I really admired was Ms. [Cheryl] Szymanski. I wasn’t great at calculus, but she had this mentality that matched mine where there is no excuse for slacking off – you need to work harder and push yourself to attain your potential. Ms. [Lucy] Pirkey was also one of my favorite teachers.”
Praise from RHS teacher Nancy Barile
Nancy Barile remembers Brandon Brito well from his days at Revere High, where he was a hard-working student and an inspiration to his classmates.
“Brandon Brito is hardworking, articulate, and inspirational—a true Renaissance man,” said Barile. “I’m so glad he keeps in touch with me because I enjoy watching his remarkable trajectory. When Brandon was a junior at RHS, I used to see him reading books all the time. Since I was interested in getting my sophomores to read more, I asked Brandon to recommend some books. He did, and my students devoured them. Brandon’s always been a strong role model for my younger students, and I often ask him to come back to speak to them. And as a social activist, Brandon is intent on changing the world. There is no doubt in my mind that he will.”