Three NPSL championships. One U.S. Open Cup Championship. Three USISL A-League Titles. Fifteen years as a coach and general manager. And an average of five bottles of Mio Water Enhancer a week. Sunday’s birthday boy has earned a celebration in honor of his half-century of accomplishments.
Tommy Tanner epitomizes what a GM should be. He’s a soccer guy, through and through. From youth soccer to the pros, from playing to managing, Tanner has spent most of his life growing the sport throughout Central New York.
Beginning with his own professional career, Tanner never missed a beat when trying to go above and beyond what was considered normal. In the 1998 season alone, Tanner played in over 110 games between the Rochester Rhinos and the Cleveland Crunch. Exhausting? Not for Tommy.
“I loved it; it was so much fun. I would go from Rochester to Cleveland and then back to Rochester. I would go from indoor to outdoor soccer and I never had to do a training camp.”
A Syracuse native, Tommy Tanner is the unsung hero of the Utica City FC. Always working tediously behind the scenes, Tanner’s knowledge of the sport has been crucial in the growth and success of professional soccer in Utica. For a long time, he’s been the guy that knows indoor soccer better than anyone, and when he heard about the Utica Comets, he knew that this was the right city for his team.
But nothing could have prepared him for how well the team has been received.
“I’ve been in arenas where, when the home team scores, it’s loud. But when we scored our first goal against Baltimore in the home opener - I had never seen anything like it.”
With the MASL being the highest level of indoor soccer in the country, most players in the league have played for their respective National Teams or even Major League Soccer. And still, the involvement of the fans in Utica has been unlike anything he’s ever seen.
“In our game against Orlando, we fell to a 2-0 deficit early on. If it hadn’t been for the fans being so involved, we wouldn’t have gone on to win that game 10-6. And that’s something really special.”
After starting soccer at seven years old, Tanner has spent the last 43 years surrounding himself with the game and giving back whenever he could. He is responsible for bringing professional indoor soccer to the City of Utica, and it has exceeded his expectations.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday,” he says. “Plus, I love wine slushies.”