Meet Anthony and Olivia Esquivel, owners and founders of Southern Pressed Juicery and COPA Indoor Soccer.
Anthony, a Texas native, grew up playing soccer from a very young age. He was introduced to the Upstate when he chose to play for Furman during his college years. During his time at Furman, the success of the team was unparalleled. And throughout a four year period Furman was consistently a top 10 team, won 4 conference championships, and made the Elite 8. It was during this time USMNT legend Clint Dempsey was playing at Furman. At the height of his career Anthony won the MVP of the team and Furman’s conference.
When Anthony graduated from Furman he was nominated for the MLS combine and had a few A-league teams offer him contracts. Amidst the offers one was to be coach of the Dallas Texans, the #1 youth program in the country at the time. Anthony quickly became the youngest director ever for the club.
He spent several years there and worked his way up the ladder. The higher up he got into the club, the more he found that the amount of coaching he was doing went down. Towards the end he was doing more behind the scenes with the club. He had transitioned to being the face of the club and away from his passion which was working with kids. “It was a privilege to be in the position I was,” he said, “but it took away from something I loved, working with kids, trying to be a role model, and give back to the game that I loved so much. It got to a point where I was itching for a change.”
Anthony resigned and was ready to be in a new city.
Olivia and Anthony had met while attending Furman and stayed in touch over the years. In 2011 they took the next step with their relationship and decided to no longer do long distance and come back to Greenville.
Olivia’s path was very different than Anthony’s.
“We are both hispanic,” she told me, “I’m first born American from Cuba, Anthony is of Mexican heritage. It is very important to us that we keep our heritage and culture in front of our boys.”
Before COPA and Southern Pressed Juicery, Olivia worked at GHS doing community outreach. She spent almost a decade working with community centers in Greenville. During these years Olivia discovered that the hispanic population was very underserved. Coming from south Florida, where the majority of the population speaks Spanish, Olivia was used to having the means and materials necessary to do effective outreach. Unfortunately, that was not the case in the Upstate.
“Often community centers have nobody that’s Spanish speaking and center’s lacked culturally appropriate materials for the Spanish speaking population. It was not easy for me from a programming standpoint to get them in there, they may not speak english, be undocumented, and have different eating habits.”
That plagued Olivia as she was passionate about the hispanic culture and helping the Spanish speaking residents in the Upstate embrace their heritage. “This played a role in our decision in where to put COPA,” she said, “as it is surrounded by a large population of hispanics. Now it is a place that they can call their own. It is culturally sensitive to hispanics as well as english speaking population.”
Before COPA, though, was Southern Pressed Juicery.
Olivia saw Greenville becoming an active city — health and wellness are a focal point of many locally owned businesses. People are spending more time outdoors running and cycling. Where they lived in Texas and Florida had juice bars, but when they came to Greenville they noticed there were none. While working, they were juicing at home and working on a concept for their own juice bar. Health was very important to their family, and they quickly realized that they had to make the jump. They opened Southern Pressed Juicery alongside Table 301 in 2015.
The Esquivel’s wanted to continue their impact on the community beyond health and wellness. After 5 years of coaching at Furman, Anthony resigned so that he could commit fully to giving the community what he felt Greenville needed, an indoor space to play soccer. This led Anthony to COPA indoor soccer, allowing him to make an impact in the community while staying close to his love of the sport he had devoted his life to.
When Anthony and Olivia chose to put COPA in Berea they knew the would be able to make an impact on the surrounding hispanic community. “I knew those who were well-off, those who I already had a relationship with in the soccer community, they would follow me there. These were people who I knew wouldn’t normally be here otherwise, and that’s what we wanted. There’s an underground soccer community in Berea that the mainstream soccer community is totally unaware of. We wanted to bring new eyes to an area that needed a little bit of help. I wanted to connect with people who I didn’t necessarily have relationships with.”
Olivia jumped in, “A good example is the Berea high school soccer team. There’s a high school league that plays at COPA. There’s JL Mann, Christ Church, all the typical schools with players who can afford to play in the league. The Berea team just won the state championship. They wanted to play in the league but didn’t have the money. We went out and found a sponsor that gave them the money to play, sponsored brand new jerseys. What good does it do to put this in the community and they don’t have the money to play? How can we remove all the obstacles? What’s the point in building something cool that they can’t actually use? Start building bridges. What can we do, who can we partner with to break down those obstacles?”
“We had these ideas,” they said. “We wanted to make an impact on the community, and we executed. We took those risks. Hopefully our kids will see that. That you can have goals, you can have dreams, and the next step is to make it happen. We’re not from Greenville but it has become our home. This is where we want to raise our boys. We’re constantly wondering how we can play a role in improving an already unbelievable city.”
“A lot of people work their whole adult life to try to give back at the end of it,” Olivia said. “For us it’s not money that we’re giving back, it’s opportunities. We want to show our boys that we can be busy, go to school, and still ultimately make an impact on those around us.”
“The passion for our projects has always been there,” Anthony said. “Soccer is who I am, it was easy for me to make this happen, just like health and wellness was Olivia’s life and an easy decision for her.”
Southern Pressed Juicery is located on 2 W Washington St in downtown Greenville.
COPA Indoor soccer is located on 3044 White Horse Road, in Greenville.