In terms of sheer workload, few academic programs are as daunting as Michigan’s second-ranked Industrial and Operations Engineering program.

Said Alsalah / Daily

Imagine trying to complete an engineering degree in three-and-a-half years — as a varsity athlete.

That’s precisely what senior defender Mike Holody has done during his four-year career with the men’s soccer team. Perhaps even more impressive, he manages to maintain a healthy sleep cycle.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Holody said. “It’s just a matter of getting the stuff done that I need that day and making sure I’m on top of things. At the worst times I try to get six hours of sleep (each night), but ideally I get seven or eight, catching a few naps here and there.”

Holody has managed to do more than just get his work done while participating in 20 hours of practice a week and traveling with the team for matches. He has excelled in both areas.

The Clarkstown native is a three-time Michigan Athletic Academic Achievement honoree. The tri-captain also serves as the anchor of the Wolverine defense. Michigan coach Steve Burns said Holody is the best defender in the Big Ten.

Burns, who graduated with a Michigan Engineering degree, said he’s seen a correlation between quality defenders and engineering students.

“I don’t know if it’s the organization that appeals to the type of personality for engineering, but they naturally understand the concepts,” Burns said. “I really like that type of personality on the field, and oftentimes they seem to be defenders, while the attacking players are more the artists. You can’t teach that. He knows, based on angles, based on movement and momentum, mass times acceleration with things coming at him, where he needs to be to make plays.”

Though Holody said soccer played a large part in his college decision, Michigan’s strong engineering program helped bring him to Ann Arbor rather than Wake Forest.

And coming to college with 19 credits already under his belt, Holody realized he could graduate early, and train for a potential professional launching pad, the Major League Soccer combine, in January.

Burns, who has sent five Wolverines to the MLS, has described Holody as a lock to be drafted. Holody sounds confident, too.

“I’ll be going to the MLS combine and hopefully getting drafted,” Holody said. “I’ve compared myself to players drafted in the past couple years, but I could go anywhere. It depends on how the rest of the season goes, because when your team does well it opens the eyes of pro teams. We’re focused on doing well in the NCAA Tournament and if that helps me in future draft position, then who knows?”

And when his playing days are over, Holody knows he can fall back on his engineering degree and hard work in the classroom.

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