Twin sisters Marisa and Camryn Warren collected 34 varsity letters teaming together in six sports over the last six years.
Recent graduates of the Nichols School, the Warren twins plan to study pre-medicine at Canisius College but are not joining any of the Golden Griffins’ athletics teams.
For now, they are focused on playing a new game at the international level.
As the first Western New York players selected to the U.S. Youth Futsal national team, Marisa and Camryn will play three matches in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from July 24 to August 1.
“We are definitely excited to represent our country and proud to be the first players from the Buffalo area,” Marisa said before a recent workout at Nichols.
“It’s a dream come true to play for a national team,” Camryn added. “It’s awesome that we are getting this opportunity now. We originally never thought our futsal careers would take off.”
Futsal as a fast-paced version of soccer, played indoors on a basketball-sized court with a smaller, heavier ball and five players on each side, including the goalkeeper. Recognized by FIFA as the official form of indoor soccer, the game is played by more than 12 million people in over 100 countries, according to the U.S. Youth Futsal website.
The Warren twins started playing futsal this past winter in order to improve their soccer skills. Opportunities to barnstorm tournaments with sisters Shea, 19, Sierra, 14, and Rory, 12, usually in the high school boys division, also had appeal.
“We always grew up playing sports together but futsal is especially cool because you need five players,” Marisa said. “Our older sister is a goalkeeper and we play the other four positions.”
Marisa and Camryn soon began making regular weekend trips to train with Elma native Otto Orf at the Heart and Sole Futsal Academy in Akron, Ohio.
Orf, a former soccer and baseball player for the University at Buffalo, was the goalkeeper for the Buffalo Storm during their lone United States Soccer League season (1984) and continued playing professionally for 20 more seasons, mostly with the Cleveland Crunch in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Orf also played in one match at the 1996 FIFA Futsal World Championship during his seven years with the U.S. men’s national team, and has been coaching futsal since retiring from playing in 2004.
Currently the director of goalkeepers for U.S. Youth Futsal, Orf was immediately impressed with the Warren twins.
“They are two of the most athletic young ladies I have ever met,” Orf said. “And they are not just athletic but extremely intelligent. Their learning curve is much shorter than the average player. You could teach them any sport, I’m sure, and they would excel.”
Despite their lack of experience playing futsal, Orf believed Marisa and Camryn could both make the youth national team with just a few months training.
Among a pool of more than 5,000 hopefuls in various groups, the Warren twins advanced through regional trials in Ohio in May. More than 500 players from 28 states were invited to the national trials last month in Overland Park, Kan., and the Warrens were selected for one of the six 12-player rosters (2001 birth year) for the trip to Argentina.
“There’s not much futsal here, so we didn’t know how we’d stack up against the competition,” Marisa said. “But that also drove us. People kind of dismissed us because we were from Buffalo.”
Soccer has always been the Warren twins’ favored sport. Coached by their parents, Christopher and Danessia, they started at age 4 and quickly advanced from the instructional leagues. “We were a bit aggressive,” Camryn said, “so they told us we should move on to another program.”
Playing on boys club teams for much of their youth, the Warren twins also trained with the New York State West Olympic Development Program and iD2 Player Development Program, as well as the Canadian Academy of Futbol and Elite Soccer Development Academy in Welland, Ontario.
As captains for Nichols teams that won three Monsignor Martin championships and twice reached the state Catholic finals, both twins were first-team All-Western New York selections, Marisa as a junior and Camryn as a senior. Last fall, Camryn was named first-team all-state in Class B and Marisa made the sixth team. Marisa made fourth-team all-state as a junior. They each earned All-WNY Scholar Athlete recognition.
Mastering multiple sports has helped the dynamic duo develop as overall athletes and soccer players, the Warrens agreed. They competed for Williamsville South’s golf, indoor and outdoor track teams while attending Mill Middle School. At Nichols, they played basketball, squash, golf and lacrosse, picking up the latter sport for the first time as seniors.
“It’s definitely helped us in soccer to be able to use all of the skill sets from different sports,” Camryn said. “And we never got bored with soccer because we were always playing so many other sports.”
Futsal, however, “is taking the front seat right now,” Camryn said.
Orf has tried unsuccessfully to organize a futsal club in Western New York over the last decade. He is hopeful that the Warren’s success in the sport will drive local interest.
“It would be really awesome to get a futsal club here in Buffalo,” Camryn said. “We had a great experience going from playing soccer to futsal and other players in the area can benefit from that, too.”
Beyond the matches in Argentina, Marisa and Camryn are unsure when they will get another chance to play international futsal once they age out of the youth program. There is no U.S. women’s national team. There has been preliminary discussion within U.S. Soccer about creating one in the coming years, said Orf, who recently coached the Trinidad and Tobago national team at the Junior Olympics.
The Warren twins believe the opportunity will arise for them.
“Because of the success that the U.S. women’s soccer team has had, it’s going to create a bigger push for a U.S. women’s futsal team,” Marisa said. “So many girls are getting into the sport. If we can spread the word and get people participating in futsal at a young age, I definitely think a national team can get started in a couple years.”