Michael Valantassis became Old Dominion University's first soccer All-American when he was selected in 1978 to the second team of the National Soccer Coaches Association's honor squad. He was also named that year to the All-South first team.
The 1971 Virginia intercollegiate soccer player of the year and a four-time All-State and three-time All-District pick, Valantassis was the team's most valuable player for three seasons. He also captained the Monarchs as a junior and senior.
The defensive back ended his ODU career with 19 career goals and 11 assists, ranking sixth on the university's all-time scoring list.
Valantassis helped the Monarchs go undefeated through 13 games of the regular season in the fall of 1975. "We thought we couldn't lose, even when we were behind," he remembers. The squad's only two losses came in post-season play.
During his four years, ODU soared into soccer credibility with wins over such teams as Madison, William and Mary and the University of North Carolina while coaches Guenther Dietz and Bill Killen were building the program.
Valantassis arrived at ODU as a seasoned player who had won all-star recognition in Greece. He grew up in Cardamyla on Chios, the fifth largest island in the Aegean Sea.
After graduating from ODU with a degree in engineering management, he served in the Greek Army. When inducted into the ODU Sports Hall of Fame in 1986, he was production manager of a cosmetics company in northern Virginia.
"I'm glad I could contribute something to Old Dominion because the years there were fantastic for me. I'm thankful for the opportunity to get a good education and have fun playing soccer," he said.
Five years after graduating from ODU, Valantassis continued to play soccer and also to coach three teams. One of his youth teams battled through five overtimes before losing its championship contest in a northern Virginia league.