Matthew Hanks, Jonathan Rinaldi and Domenico Comita have spent a lot of time together for over five years. The three soccer players have been teammates for that time and they’ll continue that streak when the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack hit the field for their next Canada West season.
The Pack and head coach John Antulov are happy to announce that Hanks has committed to the Pack. This follows Rinaldi and Comita signing last year. All three are Kamloops, BC products. Hanks will be graduating from South Kamloops Secondary next month. Comita and Rinaldi will do the same from Sa-Hali Secondary.
The 5’11” Hanks is a defender and was the captain of the South Kamloops Secondary squad along with being a member of the Thompson Okanagan Football Club 18U squad with Rinaldi and Comita.
“I have known Coach Antulov for a long time (through the Vancouver Whitecaps development program) and he has established a great program at Thompson Rivers,” says Hanks. “That and I know the university has a great science program. So it was easy to commit to the WolfPack. And yes, both Domenico and Jon did have some influence on me making this decision.”
Hanks adds that Comita and Rinaldi have driven him to become a better soccer player. “I think the biggest thing between us is the trust. We know where we are going to be at all times. That familiarity is definitely going to be a plus. With Dom and I being on the back end, I know when he has the ball he will definitely look towards me and I almost don’t have to call for the ball.”
“Matthew is a really really good solid defender,” says Antulov. “He is a stay at home guy who can play multiple positions. He has a calmness on the ball to be able to play at a quicker, higher level and be able to build out. He reads the game very well. He comes from a great family. He is a fantastic student with a 4.0 GPA. A great kid and has the potential to be a great player moving forward.”
David Broadhurst has been Hanks’ coach this past season, “Matthew has a fantastic work ethic and is keen to improve his game at all times. His ability on the ball has certainly been an area of improvement this past season. U SPORTS will be a step up for Matthew but I am sure he will make the necessary adjustments to contribute effectively when given the chance.”
Hanks is a multi-sport athlete. He competed both provincially, nationally and internationally in Judo with Team BC since 2014.
Hanks says there will definitely be some pressure on his shoulders when he takes to the field at Hillside Stadium because of the WolfPack’s recent success and the fact he will have a lot of friends and family watching. “For sure, but it will push me to be an even better player and won’t have a negative effect on me.”
He says growing up, he has watched a number of TRU matches. He says didn’t have a particular WolfPack player as an idol but has been able to take aspects of a number of past players strengths into his own game. He admits that hitting the turf at Hillside for the first time wearing a Thompson Rivers uniform will be the fulfillment of a dream.
The commitment to Thompson Rivers has been a highlight on what has been a somber grade 12 year for Hanks. Not only did COVID 19 put a damper on the TOFC season and graduation plans, but he is also dealing with the loss of his father from cancer.
Educationally, Hanks wants to complete his Bachelor of Science at Thompson Rivers and then apply for medical school with the long-term goal of becoming a doctor.
He knows with a veteran back line, he will have to work his hardest to get playing time in his first season but is looking forward to learning off the veteran returnees.
Besides Rinaldi, Comita and Hanks, other committed players for the coming season are Jost Hausendorf (6’5” striker/winger Ammersbek, Germany-Gymnasium Eckhorst Bargteheide/West Virginia Weselan College (NCAA Div II)/TSV Sasel (Germany)), George “Trey” Lamotte (6’2” striker/attacking mid, Malabar/Arima Trinidad and Tobago/St. Mary’s College/West Virgiina Weselan College (NCAA Div II), and Saeed Khan (6’0” centerback, Surrey, BC-Panorama Ridge Secondary/Fraser Valley U18 Premier).
THROW INS: Comita on Hanks joining he and Rinaldi with the WolfPack, “Jonny, Matt and I have an awesome chemistry. When Jonny is midfield, I am right centre back and Matt is right back, we are all working together and creating triangles to beat the opposition. We communicate well with each other and we all understand each other very well. This can carry on with TRU as long as we keep working hard and staying positive. Whenever we are struggling we will talk about it and work something out. I am super stoked to be able to play with them post secondary.”
Comita adds, “ Matthew is a super personable and humble person. I respect very much as a person and know that I can trust him. As a player Matthew is extremely hard working and never gives up. He is super resilient and always does his best for the team. It is incredibly special that we are all playing together with the WolfPack. I am looking forward to creating more memories with them and the team. I am excited for us to excel as people and soccer players. I am stoked to join TRU and can’t wait to continue playing with some of my best friends.”
Rinaldi states, “I have played with and against Matthew since we were really young. The first time we got to play together was at the BC Summer Games. For the last four or five years we have played together with the Thompson Okanagan regional team. With the time I’ve played with Matthew I can say that he is a smart, hardworking person on and off the field. Since Matthew has played with Domenico and I for a long time, we have built a good relationship, as well as a good understanding on the field. Having a good chemistry with each other will help us adapt to playing in USPORTS because having a good connection with teammates helps you adapt to a higher level. I’m happy Matthew joined TRU as I know he is a player that is willing to do all he can to help the team. “
Broadhurst says having the three players enter U SPORTS competition together will be a benefit, “Having team mates he is already familiar with will help him/all of them adjust to life at the U SPORT level a little easier. They had a positive relationship at TOFC and I am sure that will continue into the WolfPack.”