Bulldog to become a Peacock
By Erik Buchinger
New London senior goalkeeper Liz Tank signed her national letter of intent to play for NCAA Division II’s Upper Iowa University on Feb. 7, despite playing soccer for just three years.
Tank said making her college choice was a relief because of all the hard work she has done, and it meant the recruiting process has been completed.
“It was a huge milestone for me, and I felt a huge weight off my shoulders,” Tank said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt happy because of all the hard work for the past few years I’ve been doing as the goalkeeper. It paid off in the end.”
Tank was reluctant to play soccer until an injury playing basketball forced her to see the trainer in her freshman year.
“The athletic trainer said, ‘You should play soccer because you’re athletic. You’re a post, and you’d do amazing at goalkeeper,’” Tank said. “I told her no and that I’m never going to play soccer.”
Tank went with her mom Cathy to Subway later that night and saw New London girls’ soccer coach Joe Messina at the restaurant, and they told him what the trainer had said to her.
“He said, ‘Yeah, come on in. Put on a red shirt, and I’ll see you at practice tomorrow,’” Tank said. “So I went to practice the next day, and I fell in love.”
Tank said she first knew she could play at the collegiate level during Camp Shutout, which is a camp dedicated to goalkeepers with former professional and college players giving instruction.
“My trainer Eric [Wiberg] told me I have real potential, and when I was at Camp Shutout, the coaches showed me that as long as I put my heart to it that I can get to wherever I want to be,” Tank said.
Goalkeeper guru Stan Anderson is the founder of Camp Shutout, and he told Tank she has potential to play at the college level.
“When [Anderson] said he saw a bright future for me, that’s when I was like ‘OK, I can actually do this,’” Tank said.
Tank said she was offered to play by several Division III schools, including colleges in Indiana, Rhode Island and Florida. She also could have received a scholarship to play for Stephens College, a NAIA school in Columbia, Missouri.
Upper Iowa contacted Tank in late October of 2016, and after she visited the campus in Fayette, Iowa prior to Thanksgiving, she was offered an $8,000 scholarship that can increase as she continues with the program.
Tank accepted the offer after Christmas.
“I picked Upper Iowa University because the education they could provide for me as a lot better than Stephens College,” Tank said. “With the opportunities that I have, it will be better for me to get to where I want to be for my future job.”
Tank said the biggest help throughout the recruiting process was from her mom and trainer.
“Without my mom, I would have committed to the Division III schools right away and wouldn’t have thought of reaching out to other school,” Tank said. “She would help me to figure out what to ask them and what to be looking for, rather than just pick a school because they’re giving me an athletic scholarship. Actually putting education first made everything a lot easier. And of course my trainer Eric because he’s just amazing.”
Tank will conclude her high school soccer career with the Bulldogs this spring.
“I hope to have a successful year with my teammates and become the greatest leader that I could possibly be,” Tank said.
Tank said she is most excited to meet new people in college to make lifelong friendships and learn about different cultures, as Upper Iowa has a few foreign exchange players on the roster. She plans to major in Biology with an emphasis in Medical Laboratory to research cancer as a cytotechnologist.
Tank joked there will be a transition in regards to her college’s nickname, which is the Upper Iowa University Peacocks.
“It’s different,” Tank said. “It’s a pretty animal, but you wouldn’t think it’s a very powerful mascot. Going from a Bulldog to a Peacock, that’s going to be different.”