Like a missile screeching through the air, Nick Bigogno zeros in on his target. Five seconds later, an explosion of legs and grass fly into the air as he connects with his opponent.
“If you go in and hit someone they will know when you are coming next time,” Bigogno said. “It will be in the back of their mind for sure.”
Bigogno, a junior midfielder for the Columbia College men’s soccer team, plays physically, very physically. It’s in his blood. If you paid him not to be so physical, he would pay you more so he could.
“I have always been physical, even when I was a kid,” Bigogno said. “It’s never personal, it’s just the way I am.”
Yet Bigogno, who transferred to the Cougars this year from St. Louis Community College-Meramec, is not the only member of his family to play sports in this fashion. His cousin Bart Coslet, a freshman defensive lineman for the Missouri football team, is also extremely rough and aggressive.
“We have always been like that,” Coslet said. “Growing up we just played all kinds of sports with each other at family get-togethers, and it was always fun and rough.”
Bigogno and Coslet have been close since they could climb out of their cribs. The two are actually second cousins, with Bigogno’s father and Coslet’s mother being first cousins, yet they feel more like brothers.
“We have a really tight-knit family,” Coslet said. “We all live just about an hour away from each other, and it’s easy to get together a lot.”
Growing up, Bigogno and Coslet saw each other more than most second cousins usually would. Bigogno’s side of the family would have weekly family dinners, while Coslet’s side of the family would host several holiday parties and family reunions.
“Our family is so big we always have something going on,” Bigogno said. “We just hang out a lot. Not just because we are family, but because we like to.”
With both close in age, Bigogno is 20 and Coslet 19, the two developed a friendship, partially because of the fact they had to sit at the children’s table during family meals. They shared a love for competition and sports, enjoyed making fun of one another and just had fun telling stories and talking.
“We have always been real close growing up because we have fun together,” Coslet said. “Him and his brother are definitely my favorite.”
The favorite family event for both is the annual float trip. Every summer, the entire Bigogno and Coslet families travel down to southern Missouri and spend the weekend together floating down various rivers.
“It is a blast, and all our cousins come, even the ones from out of town,” Coslet said.
When they started high school, the cousins started to stay in touch outside of family functions. They would talk to one another on the phone and try to attend all of their family events, even with busy schedules.
“We talk about anything and everything,” Bigogno said. “We really stick together and keep in contact.”
With all the good times Bigogno and Coslet have shared, there have been some dark moments as well. During his senior year in high school, Coslet tore his left knee ligaments and nearly had his football career destroyed.
“I freaked out at first and had that initial shock,” Coslet said. “But once the coaches said it would be OK and I still had my scholarship, I was OK.”
One year later, during Bigogno’s freshman year at Meramec, he broke his right foot early in the season. Two months later, during his first game back from his injury, Bigogno broke the same foot again.
“I talked to Bart when I first got hurt,” Bigogno said, “and asked him about surgery and rehab. The first thing he told me was, ‘It sucks.’”
But fortunately for Bigogno, that was the only pearl of wisdom Coslet would give him.
“We would talk throughout my rehab,” Bigogno said, “like everything was normal. It helped me out a lot to have someone who wouldn’t talk about my foot all the time, and he helped get my mind off it.”
Since both their injuries, Bigogno and Coslet have recovered nicely. Bigogno just completed his first year at Columbia College. He played in 15 games and had three assists. Coslet has sat out all season, red-shirting, and hopes to challenge for a starting spot next season for the Tigers.
“We have both been pretty busy with our teams and school work,” Bigogno said. “But I’m pretty sure we will hang out a whole lot when both our seasons end.”
Coslet feels the same.
“We’re pretty busy right now, but I know for sure whenever we get the time, we will get together,” he said.