Marquette men’s soccer adds Tasker Wheeler to spring roster

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Tasker Wheeler played with the D.C. United U-18/19 team from 2019-2020. (Photo courtesy of Tasker Wheeler.)

“Long car rides with my dad,” Tasker Wheeler said. “Traveling a lot with my dad, just enjoying the time that I had with my dad.”

For many people, the thought of spending time with their father on the open road might bring back a variety of memories. It could spark the thought of an annual family road trip, the trek to a weird uncle’s house for the holidays or even the day where one wrong turn made a trip to the grocery store an all-day event. For Marquette men’s soccer’s newest addition, those car rides with Dad were a brick in the foundation of a soccer career spanning across two decades.

The men’s soccer program announced Wheeler’s officially signing with the team Jan. 5. He became the eighth first-year player on the roster and the third first-year player on the defensive side of the ball.

Wheeler grew up playing soccer in New York City, but truly discovered his passion for the game after moving to London, England. He made the move at seven years old and embraced the sports culture that his new environment gifted him with.

“It’s a big culture there, everyone loves playing soccer,” Wheeler said. “It’s the big sport, it’s the American football … and I just fell in love with it the second I started playing in England.”

Since then, soccer has taken him all around the world. Ever since he was young, he would spend a lot of time on the road with his dad — it’s one of his earliest memories.

During his time in the United States, the 6-foot-1 defender has played for IMG Academy, the D.C. United Development Academy and Alabama FC. Wheeler said his experiences prior to Marquette taught him a lot that prepared him for the college game.

“The competition was fantastic,” Wheeler said. “You’re fighting for your spot every day. You’re proving that you can be the starting player in your position. It was great, the coaching staff was great … D.C. United transformed the way I play, on and off the ball.”

Wheeler took those skills with him to Milwaukee and head coach Louis Bennett said the first-year is continuously trying to improve his game at the collegiate level.

“He’s a very intense guy, very positive guy, and he is like a sponge — he wants to learn, he wants to get better all the time,” Bennett said. “He’s never satisfied with where he’s at.”

Coach Bennett said that there is always an acclimation period with new players on the team, and that this period can be especially difficult due to the pandemic. Although COVID-19 has presented first-year players and the team with obstacles, Bennett said Wheeler is on the right track when it comes to his development. 

Veterans on the squad have been able to guide the younger players through these tough times. The first-years that were on the roster in the fall have also been helping Wheeler adjust to the team. Fellow first-year defender Joey Fitzgerald said the addition of Wheeler to the roster has been beneficial for team chemistry.

“Chemistry is going great for us so far, especially with Tasker coming in in the spring,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel like it’s been really good for him (Wheeler) to have the group of freshmen we have with him to get him used to everything.”

In his time with the Golden Eagles thus far, Wheeler has embraced the challenge that is BIG EAST soccer.

“The college game is definitely very different than anything I’ve ever been in, it’s a new environment for me,” Wheeler said. “All the guys have been great and they’ve definitely added me to the team and I couldn’t be more thankful, but it’s definitely a new environment. I’m still learning every day, with an open mind, and I’ve loved every second of college.”

As Wheeler enters this next stage of his career, it is no surprise that he is not backing down from the challenge.

“As a young boy, and an older boy, and then a young man, he’s been all over the place seeking … challenges with soccer,” Bennett said. “So he’s a very ambitious guy, and we’re seeing that for sure.”

Now that the long road trips with his father have turned into a Division I soccer career, Wheeler said he is excited to finally get back out onto the pitch after an extended break away from the game that he fell in love with in England.

“I’m just excited for all of us to be able to play again. It’s been a long time and we’ve worked very hard in a lot of different aspects of the game,” Wheeler said. “On a personal standpoint, I just look forward to seeing what I can bring to the team and how I can help the team out in every scenario.”

This story was written by Nick Galle. He can be reached at nicholas.galle@marquette.edu or on Twitter @thenickgalle.