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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Rhody soccer star sees future as mentor to teenagers -- But first heíll give soccer a shot in Scotland

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I., -- April 7, 2004 -- Conor Lander eventually wants to become a high school soccer coach, but first the University of Rhode Island senior will travel to Scotland in the summer to keep his soccer-playing dreams alive.

When his playing days are over, some lucky teen-agers are going to learn from a great mentor.

The senior from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who will graduate in May, was a member of the 2003 Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Academic All-Conference Team and served as captain of the URI squad in 2003.

Not only that, he helped lead the Rams to the A-10 Conference title and a bid to the NCAA tourney. The central midfielder was also one of 215 URI varsity athletes feted this year at the Department of Athletics Student-Athlete Deanís List Reception. Lander was also selected to the A-10 All Conference team and the All New England team for his play during the 2003 season.

"First and foremost, Conor is an outstanding person," said Jay Primiano, menís assistant soccer coach. "He was one of our hardest working players and he often played injured. He models the behaviors we desire in all of our athletes both on and off the field."

A physical education major, Lander said achieving excellence in academics while competing as a Division I athlete is a matter of commitment. "I knew I had to get my (academic) work done during the week because we traveled and played many of our games on the weekends. You have to make a lot of sacrifices when you make soccer at this level your priority."

Lander transferred from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington to URI in 2001. "I wanted to play soccer at a top Division I school, and URI was the place."

Primiano said that when Lander first joined the team, he kept quiet and worked hard. "Heís a great student-athlete, and he led the team academically. He has one of the highest GPA's on the team."

Primiano said he expects Lander to be a very strong soccer coach. "Iíve also seen him work with the mentally and physically challenged, and he is always patient and encouraging."

The highpoints of Lander's URI career have been making it to the NCAA tourney and the great friendships he has made. "We're really close knit, and we enjoy being with each other," he said of his teammates.

While he hopes to be a high school soccer and wrestling coach in the future, he is pursuing his soccer dreams and by heading to Scotland to train over the summer. "I am in the process of getting my working papers and other matters sorted out. I am hoping that leads to a contract," Lander said.

"I'd like to see Conor have a professional soccer career," Primiano said. "He has met every challenge he has faced."