From Ram to Rhino
Michael Tanke always dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player: “My parents got me involved when I was young; by the time I was 8, I was begging them to let me play on more and more teams. On Saturdays I would have games from early morning to late at night, all for different teams.
“A huge part of my coming to URI was for soccer—not just for the winning records and playing facilities but for the team and coaching staff. Coach John O’Connor had the attitude of a coach I knew I could play for.”
“When I was appointed head coach, I was going through the files of recruits and found a letter from Michael about his interest in URI,” said O’Connor. “I knew I had to have him in my first class of Rhody Rams.”
Tanke has lived up to O’Connor’s expectations and has grown into a powerful midfielder, starting in all 18 games of his senior year, all while maintaining a 3.4 grade point average and being named to the Dean’s List. Tanke acknowledges the difficulty of fitting in time to study during his intense traveling and demanding practice schedule.
A nutrition and dietetics major and international development minor, Tanke remarks: “I already had an interest in nutrition because I pay attention to what I eat due to soccer; I became interested in international development since becoming aware of the Grassroot Soccer organization as a teenager.”
As part of his minor, he traveled to South Africa with Cross Cultural Solutions, a volunteer program that helps address global issues and promotes education and childhood development for diverse populations.
During his final semester at URI, Tanke was signed with the Rochester Rhinos, a United Soccer League team based in Rochester, N.Y. He is modest about his success: “I was never the best player on the team; I owe my success to my teammates and coaches.”
—Dave Lavallee ’79, M.P.A. ’87