In most people’s lives, there is likely going to be some forks in the road.
For Alyssa Tomassi, who played soccer for Utica Eisenhower, one such “fork” came by way of facing a decision as to where she would play after graduating from high school. Tomassi, whose hometown is Macomb, had the option to play for a Division I school or take her talents to Northwood University, where the soccer program competes at the Division II level.
Tomassi’s initial choice was to go play for the Division I school, but after giving it more thought, she opted to go with Northwood.
Tomassi is now a senior at Northwood, and along with teammate Madison Pines (Troy High School), she is a team captain for the Timberwolves. Choosing Northwood is a decision Tomassi is glad she made.
“It was a good decision,” she said. “I decided this was going to be a better fit academically (and) athletically. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s called ‘student-athlete’ for a reason. Within our program, we stress that so much — school, soccer, and then it’s our social lives. It’s been a blessing to play here.”
Tomassi credited family, coaches and teammates as being the key to making it as far as she has. Some of the people she has received assistance from include Eisenhower soccer coach Merhdad Nekoogar, Eisenhower Athletic Director Chris Corteg, as well as former club coach Dan Dalzochio.
Tomassi expressed appreciation for the support she has received from her family.
“My family is my No. 1 support system,” she said. “My dad and my mom are two of the most amazing people. I’m so blessed to have them as my parents. My dad is on the sidelines cheering me on, as well as my mom. Family is everything. That’s why we stress that family environment to the girls, (because) they are my family — like, they’re my sisters, and it’s one big family that I’m happy and blessed to be a part of.”
Tomassi has also been pleased for the opportunity she has been given to play for Northwood coach Dean Pappas, saying it has been a “great experience,” and that he has the “best interests” for his team. Tomassi’s contributions have also not gone unnoticed by Pappas.
“Alyssa’s a very accomplished player,” he said. “Last year, she was an All-Region player. She’s done a really nice job. Academically, she’s (got a) very high, 3.6, 3.8, grade point average. She’s very connected with the school. She does all our on-campus tours for recruits we bring in. She’s a great ambassador for the program, as well as the university. She is exemplary in representing the team, on and off the field.”
Tomassi, who was also a team captain at Eisenhower her senior season, thinks her time with the Eagles helped to serve as good preparation for taking her game to the next level. Aside from making it all the way to the state finals in her senior campaign with Eisenhower, Tomassi also had the opportunity to play with talented teammates, such as Alyssa Telang, who went on to play for the University of Kentucky.
Despite the kind of success Tomassi was a part of while at Eisenhower, one of the lessons she learned is that transitioning from playing at the high school level to college is not necessarily an easy task.
“I underestimated from high school to college,” she said. “You learn tough that you’re the little one. You have to fight for what you want, and I ended up fighting. I’m still fighting each and every day because it is so competitive. Women’s soccer, I think, especially in the GLIAC, (is) probably the most competitive league in Division II.
“Learning that, and learning how to adjust, was something I learned throughout the years. I had to believe in who I was as a player and what I could do for the team.”
Advertising, marketing and entertainment sports promotion management are Tomassi’s triple majors at Northwood. In regards to her plans after graduation, Tomassi has considered going on to graduate school and coaching as possible options.
Whatever it is she decides to do, Tomassi expressed a willingness to embrace the future.
“I’m ready to close the cover on one and start a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I’ve accepted it; you have to accept it. You can’t live in the past, as much as you want to. I’m that person who takes it as a challenge. I’m ready for a challenge, and I’m ready to start writing a new book.”