By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Tommy Rap had big goals for his senior year.
Quarterbacking Regina to a state football title and a breakthrough season on the basketball court were at the top of the list.
“I was pretty excited for sports this year,” Rapp said. “That’s what I spent most of my summer getting ready for.”
Less than a month into the final year of his prep career Rapp needed a new goal.
A torn ACL sustained in the second game of the season sidelined Rapp for the rest of the season and kept him out for all of basketball.
In the days leading up to his surgery Rapp studied a calendar.
Before the procedure to repair his knee was complete Rapp already had his new goal – soccer.
“From what I heard from his parents a few days after the injury and then from Tommy before his surgery was his goal was he was going to play soccer this spring,” Regina coach Rick Larew said. “He has just worked and worked and worked.”
Less than six months after major knee surgery, Rapp made good on his goal.
He was cleared by doctors to return to the field in time for Regina’s season opener and helped the Regals to a 2-1 win over North Scott on March 30.
“After watching football season and not being able to be part of that it was really exciting to think about coming out and playing soccer,” Rapp said. “All rehab it was nice to have some motivation and have something to work to come back for to get to play with some of these guys again.”
Soccer isn’t new for Rapp.
He played as a youth and after taking a break from the sport returned last season to help Regina reach the Class 1A semifinals.
Rapp made a smooth transition in his return to soccer last spring and played a key role in the back line for Regina.
“Tommy loves soccer,” Larew said. “He was good friends with a couple of our seniors last year, Emilio Tovar and Andrew Yowell so they have been getting him to come out but I never thought I was going to get to see him. When he came out last year, I was impressed.”
The long-time Regina coach was so impressed with Rapp he named him a captain, along with fellow senior Sam Stein, after just one season of high school soccer.
“He just really jumped into being a leader,” Larew said. “The kids really look up to him.”
Even with his success in soccer last season Rapp was locked into football and basketball entering his senior season.
He passed for 357 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 96 yards before the injuring his knee in the second game.
Limited to rehab work for the months following surgery and with his high school football and basketball careers behind him, soccer became Rapp’s passion.
“I wanted to play soccer so bad to play on this field again and have Regina on my jersey again,” Rapp said. “Once it’s gone it’s gone so I knew this was my last chance. I had a calendar for soccer season. I’m excited to be back and be playing with the guys again.”
Rapp came off the bench in the season-opening win over North Scott but has started the last three matches.
He has helped Class 1A second-ranked Regina to a 4-0 start that includes a 21-3 scoring advantage over opponents.
“I wasn’t really nervous the whole time about getting to play I was just nervous about if I was going to pass the test in time,” Rapp said. “Practice was fine but the first game I was a little nervous. That was the first full-contact with guys running at you. When you start playing you just stop thinking about it and it goes away.”
A starter at center back, Rapp had a goal in a 9-0 win over Monticello in his first start of the season.
Rapp had three goals and four assists from his spot in the Regina back line last season.
“He’s got great, what they call court presence in basketball or field presence in soccer he has a sense of what the flow the game is,” Larew said. “He rarely gets rattled. He just has a good sense of the game and he has a good sense with kids too of when to boost a kid up and when to tell them to pick it up.”
Six months after suffering the knee injury Rapp shows no affects, other than a scare on his leg.
He has picked up where he left off last summer when he again caught the eye of Larew with his play in at summer league.
Rapp teams with football teammate Isaac Vollstedt and fellow captain Stein to give Regina an imposing back line.
The 6-foot-3 Rapp and 200-pound Vollstedt, who moved from goalie this season allow Regina to matchup better with bigger teams than they have in the past.
“That’s part of the reason we had to make some changes, in some of those games we just couldn’t physically matchup up with some teams and you hate to blame it on that but it’s matchups just like football and basketball there were certain matchup situations where we were struggling,” Larew said. “Now with Isaac and Tommy back there we feel we can matchup better in some of those situations.”
The injury kept Rapp from reaching many of his goals for his senior season.
His return to the soccer field was one big goal he achieved and the final goal, a state title is well within reach.
“We were talking about this, for Sam (Stein) and I this is our last chance to get a ring,” Rapp said. “Isaac is a guy that I spend a lot of time working with in the weight room and to get to play with him, we didn’t get a championship this season with him in football so have a chance to get one with him in soccer is exciting.”