That’s where he was destined to be, like most of his family.
His father, Gregg, was a member of the first IU championship team in 1982.
Gregg was co-captain of the team and scored both goals in the 2-1 eight-overtime victory in the finals against Duke. He was also a member of the 1984 United States Olympic team where he scored in a game against Egypt.
His older brother, Tyler, is a junior on the Stanford Cardinal soccer team that is ranked No. 20 in the NCAA preseason poll. Tyler started all 21 games in the midfield during his sophomore season.
His cousin Bobby de St. Aubin also played for IU, reaching the College Cup semifinals in 2000.
His younger brother, Tommy, also played for IU this past season before becoming the first-ever homegrown signing for Major League Soccer’s San José Earthquakes.
Tommy has started the past two games at forward and appears to have become a regular starter.
This season will be the first time Tanner and Tommy will not be passing and dribbling around opposing defenses together since they were both competing in U-13’s.
Tanner and Tommy have always been together. They knew they wanted to play college soccer together, and IU Coach Todd Yeagley recruited them as a package deal.
Tanner even convinced Tommy to graduate high school a year early so they could be college freshmen at the same time.
“It’s a little different,” Tanner said. ”But I’m getting chemistry going with these other guys like Femi (Hollinger-Janzen), (Andrew) Oliver and now Jay coming in. It’ll take some time.”
One thing that will remain unchanged is Tanner’s competitive edge.
In four seasons at Grantite Bay High School in Loomis, Calif., Tanner lost one league match. He was named Sierra Foothill League MVP in 2011 after setting the school record for assists with 21.
It’s that competitive edge that explains his summer in Bloomington. After enduring the first losing season in IU history, Tanner decided to stay on campus to improve both physically and mentally.
“I think Tanner’s going to have a big year for us,” senior Patrick Doody said. “He’s worked his butt off all summer. He’s been working his butt off since last year.”
In 19 games played, Tanner found the back of the net once while notching four assists. Those relatively tame numbers were not because of a lack of talent, but because it wasn’t his time yet.
“Tanner was ready to step up last year,” Yeagley said. “It was just really more a question of all the upperclassman talent in his position. We’re putting a lot on his shoulders this year.”
Tanner said he believes what his summer in Bloomington did most was put him in a position to be on the field for all 90 minutes of a match.
That level of fitness is something he believes he did not have during the spring.
“Staying here all summer, Tom Morris was making me run a lot,” Tanner said. “It wasn’t fun, but he got me fit, and he got me where I needed to be for the season.”
The decision to stay was spurred by a conversation Tanner had with Yeagley.
His coach told him he wants and needs Tanner on the field for 90 minutes and not be forced to come off for something as controllable as fitness.
Tanner has not just improved on a physical level, either. The mental aspect of his game has also jumped, and for a player in his position, the mental aspect is key.
Tanner plays attacking mid and occupies what most people call the No. 10 role on the field.
A player who plays this position and has this role normally has a great mental understanding of the game and does not lack creativity.
Tanner has not only played that position in the first two preseason games, but also switched his jersey number to No. 10 at the start of the year.
“I want to create my own goals for myself if the time is on to do that,” Thompson said. “If the time is on to slip someone in, I slip them in. I’m not really worried about the stat sheet. I’m more focused on the wins.”
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