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Sporting A New Jersey

Keeping up with the pace of the big leagues.

The transition from college sports to the professional level can be a grind for any athlete.

While in college, you aren’t just there to play a sport. There are many other things athletes have to take care of aside from his or her sport such as school and other organizations. Days usually start early in the morning and end late at night.

Once their college career is over, the transition begins for athletes who decide to test out the pro ranks without these other distractions.

Former IU soccer star Tanner Thompson is experiencing this transition firsthand. Tanner was selected with the 67th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft to MLS newcomers, Minnesota United.

“It’s pretty clean,” Tanner said of the transition thus far. “We just started training here and we’re getting into it gradually. As the days go we’re doing more and more. It’s a little bit faster than Indiana, the pace of the game, but I think Indiana did prepare me well.”

“Cut throat” is a phrase to describe what the Loomis, California native called MLS compared to the college ranks of IU. He repeated, however, that IU prepared him well for this opportunity he now has.

During his twisting tale in Bloomington, Tanner had a lot of success on the pitch. He earned many All-American honors, won the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year award the past two seasons and was named a first-team All-Big Ten nominee multiple times. He was the gold standard for IU soccer and he showed that on the pitch.

The IU captain was a fascinating player to watch. Pulling the strings in the midfield, Tanner made himself a must watch. Opposing teams had nightmares dealing with him even though he stood at just 5’7.

Tanner was the only IU player selected in the 2017 SuperDraft. The process was a grind, but Tanner seemed to take a positive approach to it. When asked about where he thought he would get picked, he was very frank.

“I expected to go a little bit earlier, but I fell to a spot that I really like. It’s a great fit for me. I’m happy I have this opportunity to come out in preseason with Minnesota. I have some family in Minnesota so it ended up working perfectly for me.”

The draft can take you many different winding directions. Teams are trying to figure out their future and have a lot of variables to juggle. In fact, Tanner said he was in touch with a few other teams prior to Minnesota. Ultimately, he found himself in what he said was a good situation.

Through the entire process, his dad, Gregg, and brother, Tommy, gave him support and advice. He said his dad is with him in Tucson, Arizona where Minnesota is training in the preseason while he talks with his brother, who is with the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS, nearly everyday. He has also talked with IU Coach Todd Yeagley who coached him during his four seasons in Bloomington.

Tanner said their advice was to just go out there and play his game, take advantage of the opportunity, and show them he deserves a spot. His transition to being in MLS is in full swing.

“The first couple sessions, getting the nerves out, new environment, new coaches, new team, but then after that the soccer takes care of itself and you get more comfortable, you get more comfortable with the guys. You start not thinking about all of the nerves. The nerves just kind of go away and you just play like you’ve played the last 18 years of my life.”