Student Athlete Of The Month - October
Oct. 21, 2000
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Student Athlete-of-the-Month showcases an athlete who has demonstrated excellence on the field and in the classroom. The October Student Athlete-of-the-Month, fourth year Mike Feller, has displayed a strong work ethic on and off the field. Mike is a mathematics major and plans to graduate in December in order to follow his dream to play professionally. This season, Feller has anchored the defense with his tenacity and athleticism, playing the entire game in 11 of Virginia’s 13 contests for a total of 1,179 minutes out of a possible 1,216. Feller has one goal and three assists for a total of five points in his career, not bad for a defender.
Q: What were the major influences on your decision to play soccer for Virginia?
A: My dad went here and I went to all the games when I was younger. UVa was always my first choice so I committed early, in October of my senior year. I’m definitely very happy I did it. I would do it all over again. It feels just like yesterday I came here for preseason my first year.
Q: Mike, you’re on the field for nearly the entire game, every game. How much responsibility do you feel as a defender to be out there for the whole contest?
A: It’s pretty much something you go into the game expecting to do. It is a responsibility because making changes to the defense disrupts the rhythm of the team. The defense is the foundation of the team and each of us understands that. Playing the entire game, if we can, is something we all understand we need to do.
Q: From a mental perspective, does the way you and your fellow defenders prepare for a game differ from that of the offense?
A: I would definitely say it does. As a group of defenders, we’re really tight, and we always talk about how we’re going to move and cover for each other. It’s something we take really seriously. We definitely get ready as a team and don’t try to single each other out just because we’re defenders, but I think it happens, more so than with the other guys, just because of the nature of our position.
Q: The offense tends to get more glory during victories while the defense is often maligned for losses. Talk a little about your own personal gratification from what sounds like an often thankless job.
A: We actually take a lot of pride in our defending. Obviously we don’t get as much recognition as the guys who are scoring and getting assists, but people who watch and know the game appreciate what we’re doing. We all stick together really tight and I think each and every one of us enjoys being a defender. We’ve been playing defense long enough to understand that it’s natural and that’s what is going to happen, as far as the level of recognition is concerned.
Q: Mike, you have five games left, including two tough ACC contests against Duke and Maryland. What do you think the team needs to focus on throughout these games and the ACC tournament in order to perform well in the NCAA’s?
A: In college soccer, I think the tournament is the most important part of your year. Right now I think it’s important for us to get on a roll, and get some momentum going into the end of the season and the ACC tournament. With the format of the ACC tournament, I think it would be big for us to go into the tournament as the No. 1 seed and get that bye to the semi finals. That would be big. Anytime you win an ACC regular season championship and the ACC tournament you have to feel good about your chances for the national championship.
Q: Mike, your fourth year at the University is coming to a close. What are your plans upon graduation?
A: I’ve always wanted to play soccer professionally. I’m actually planning on graduating early, after the season ends in December, then hopefully going on to enter the Major League Soccer draft in February. It’s been on my mind since second year, so I’ve taken a semester’s worth of class each of the past two summers in order to make this possible along with 19 credit hours of class this fall. My major is math because it’s something I am interested in and have enough credits of in order to finish up early. Math is also something I can use years down the road when my soccer career is over.