Founder & Director
Matthew’s motivation for starting a non-profit started from his own experience as a boarding school student at Choate Rosemary Hall in the late 90’s. With a growing circle of friends from different parts of the world, including two of his best friends from South Africa, he quickly began to realize just how different their worlds were from his own. Throughout high school and college, Matt and his family always had a full house because his parents were happy to welcome all of his friends into their home. Being around so many people from different places, would eventually spark his interest in teaching and coaching.
Many years of soccer later, including an NCAA Championship run with St. Lawrence University, Matt became the head coach at The Kiski School, an all-boys boarding school in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, where he first began to recruit internationally. He started with two boys, Tapshak Augustine and David Egbo from the MTN program based in Nigeria. Both boys dominated the scene while at The Kiski School, with Tapshak going on to play at St. Lawrence University and Egbo going on to play at the University of Akron. In his senior year, Tapshak was NCAA First-Team All-East region and after graduating he became both a soccer coach and teacher at The Hoosac School. Egbo finished his junior soccer season in 2019, and for his performance made the watchlist for the NCAA’s most prestigious MACC Hermann award. Matt would go on to recruit numerous other boys to boarding school that went on to become college athletes, such as Michael Kutsanzira from Zimbabwe currently playing at Washington and Lee University.
In 2018, Matt decided that he wanted to be able to help more kids beyond what he was able to do with only his own resources. He put together a group of pilot players for what would eventually become his new organization, Thrive League. Matt is eternally grateful to his wife Darlenia, for her neverending support and accommodation in allowing their home to serve as a second home for the kids he helped bring to the United States. His two sons, Ayden and Tristan have had numerous big brother figures growing up as a result, who will also be lifelong friends. Matt is beyond excited to have Thrive League established to help support his family in their mission to open doors for numerous student athletes from all over the world. With your support, Thrive League will hit its mark in 2021.
My name is Noah Giovannelli, and I am a soon to be graduate from Hamilton College. My passion for helping others and learning about different cultures led me to becoming a double major in Public Policy and Hispanic Studies. At Hamilton, I have been a member of the Varsity Men’s Soccer team for all four years. I am also the secretary of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, intern for the Community Outreach and Opportunity Program, and head tutor for the “A Better Chance” (ABC) program.
I am originally from Leechburg, Pennsylvania, a small town located about forty minutes outside of Pittsburgh. I attended The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania beginning my sophomore year of high school and graduated in 2017. At Kiski, I played soccer and was a captain my junior and senior year. Off the field, I was very involved in the campus community as a prefect and member of multiple clubs. My boarding school experience led me to develop connections with people from all over the world.
Our team consisted of players from Nigeria, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Canada, and places all over the United States. We often spoke multiple languages on the field at once, and my passion for Spanish stemmed from the close relationships I developed with some of the boys from Mexico and Spain. On the weekends we did not travel for games, my parents were kind enough to host an international group of teenage boys. My friends from all parts of the world not only had an impact on me but became a part of my family over those three years. My parents joked that my two younger sisters did not have just one older brother, but rather ten or eleven. Some of the closest relationships I formed at my time at Kiski were with my teammates from Nigeria, Tapshak Augustine and David Egbo. The bond I formed with them is one that I cherish, as it opened my eyes to a word of cultural and societal diversity. The stories they shared with me about their experiences inspired me, and I appreciated their patience when teaching me Nigerian pigeon. On the field, they are two of the most incredible players I have ever played with or against, but the friendships we developed off the field had the biggest impact on my life. I refer to them as my brothers to this day, and my goal is to provide more opportunities to kids from similar backgrounds.