Ann Palm (Eshun) 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.
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 now also with the perspective of a coach
Note: The FC Wisconsin Eclipse “Player Profiles” are a series of interviews with former youth players that have gone on to play college soccer, and who have been through the training philosophies and curriculum of FC Wisconsin Eclipse. Their perspective and insight, looking back on their youth career, provides a unique and insightful perspective on youth soccer – on what it takes to develop into an elite player, and what they gained most from their youth careers. This interview has the unique perspective of a former player who played under the FC Wisconsin Eclipse philosophy and who now coaches with FC Wisconsin Eclipse - Ann Palm (Eshun).
Ann Palm (Eshun) 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:
"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."
"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 are your favorite memories of playing in club?
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."
"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."
And to provide a picture of a young Ann Eshun, warming up before the 2003 Jefferson Cup finals: