Ann Palm played youth soccer for Madison Capital Elite, an elite training program formed within the Madison 56ers SC from 2002-2004, for coach Christian Lavers. Her team went to 4 straight Wisconsin State Championship games, winning the U17 and U18 Wisconsin State Championships (both over FC Milwaukee), to become the only Madison girls’ team ever to win back-to-back state championships in the senior age groups. The team had tremendous success outside of Wisconsin as well, claiming a championship at the Jefferson Cup Showcase (the top East Coast Spring Showcase), advancing into knock-out rounds of the San Diego Surf Cup, and was considered one of the top teams in the country throughout their final 2 years. Ann’s team also was the first team in Wisconsin history to play year-round club soccer, choosing to leave high school soccer to focus on development for higher levels. Individually, Ann’s leadership and performance also led her to be a member of the USYS Region II Midwest ODP team for multiple years.
In college, Ann’s soccer career continued to take-off:
- Academic All-Big 10 2005, 2006, 2007
- UW Women’s Soccer Team Captain
- 9th All-Time in UW Women’s Soccer Appearances (starting 81 of 82 games)
"I was exceptionally fortunate to be able to coach Ann from the time she was an Under-13 through her Under-19 year," said Christian Lavers. "Ann was one of the best players I have ever coached, and always set a tremendous example to her teammates in her work rate, composure, toughness and intelligence on the field. She was a player that made those around her better in many different ways - which was reflected in her success after youth soccer as a Badger."
Ann took the time to answer some questions about her youth career, now with the advantage of looking back not only after a tremendous college career, but also with the perspective of a coach:
How did you pick the University of Wisconsin as the place you wanted to go to school and play college soccer?
"The University of Wisconsin has such a strong history and I knew that UW would provide great academic and athletic opportunities. It was an awesome experience being able to represent my hometown as a Badger athlete."
How did the training and competition you had as a youth player help prepare you for collegiate success?
"Initially I had never even thought about playing college soccer, but the training environment and culture we built helped make it a possibility. It stressed the importance of focusing on the details and do the little things right. I was constantly pushed and forced outside my comfort zone, which helped me to continue to develop and get better."
What was your favorite part about playing in college?
"The relationships I made throughout was my favorite part of playing in college. The best times were just being with my teammates and friends both on and off the field. I met so many great people along the way and learned so much about myself during the process. It was also very cool to be able to see so many different universities across the country.
What are your favorite memories of playing in club?
"A lot of the same things ... My favorite memories are all the trips we went on, and all the time we spent together on and off the field. Looking back, it’s amazing to me how much I grew as an individual and how much we grew together as a team. We built such an incredible bond and had so much fun together along the way."
How do you think your soccer career (youth and college) helped you most?
"What I learned throughout my soccer career helped me to be successful on the field, but I’m most grateful for how it has helped me off the field. It helped me to develop confidence in my self and also taught me how to be a leader. I really believe that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the development I had as a youth player and the opportunities I was provided through soccer."
What is the best piece of advice you wish someone had given you while you were a youth soccer player?
"Take full advantage of the opportunity that is in front of you. Be willing to listen, take criticism, and make changes. And have fun! Enjoy the time you have with your teammates playing the game you love."
What would you say to a player considering playing for FC Wisconsin Eclipse?
"Playing at this level is definitely not for everyone. But if you want to compete at the highest level, learn about yourself, develop as an athlete AND a person, and are willing to put in the work, there is no environment in the state that compares. It is an incredibly unique opportunity that can help prepare you to play at the next level."