As a 2008 senior at BHS, Mike Valesano was Defensive Captain and led the team in tackles (212). His play helped the Warriors to their first “Final Four” State championship trip to the Metrodome in 17 years. Mike was selected to play for the Greater Minnesota All Star team and was awarded Defensive MVP for the team at the All Star game. Mike also played varsity basketball and was elected to the National Honor Society.
Enrolled at St. ThomasUniversity, St. Paul, Minnesota, Mike played inside linebacker into his 5th year following a medical redshirt senior season due to an ankle injury/surgery.
The Tommies were undefeated in season play in 2010 – 2012, Mike’s junior, senior and 5th year, winning the MIAC conference title each of those years.
During Mike’s sophomore year, the Tommies played in the D - III national quarter finals. In his junior year, the Tommies played in the D - III national semi - finals and during Mike’s senior year the Tommies played in the D - III national championship game.
In the national championship year, Mike was selected by his coaches as the Tommie player representative to address both teams and parents/officials at the Pre-Championship Game Banquet in Salem, Virginia. St. Thomas lost to perennial powerhouse Mount Union, Ohio. The Tommies’ record during Mike’s tenure at St Thomas was 61-7 (89%).
In Mike’s senior year at St. Thomas, he was selected for the national “Good Works Team” because of his community volunteer service, his work while at a Mission in Guatemala, and his volunteer contributions to non-profit agencies. The Good Works Team, which included Heisman Trophy candidates, was honored with an on field appearance during halftime at the 2013 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
While at St. Thomas, Mike served as a St. Thomas football administration assistant worked part-time at a conditioning clinic specializing in preparing potential NFL recruits for their Pro Day tryouts. While there Mike also taught conditioning skills to individuals and groups of senior and junior high school students from around the Twin Cities, including for Stillwater Area High School.
After graduating from St. Thomas in 2013 with a degree in Operational Development, Mike began working as an intern with the Minnesota Gopher football program. He remains there today, not as an intern, but as an operations assistant to the Director of Player Personnel. Mike’s operations responsibilities involve assisting Gopher football players in managing all aspects of their lives, including academic performance, nutrition and sleep, and timeliness and attendance at classes, practices and team events. In addition, Mike is responsible for arranging team transportation and accommodations for away games, bowl appearances and player/family and recruit visits.
Mike is enrolled in a Master’s degree program in Education Administration at the University of Minnesota. He plans a lifelong career in administration and coaching at the collegiate or high school level. Mike is eternally grateful to the many fine football coaches he has had the honor to play for and to learn from, especially Brainerd’s own Ron Stolski.