The graduating class of 2015 has left a strong mark on the club, and helped set a club culture that will be the foundation of success for years to come. From a group that was nearly winless in the ECNL as U15s to an ECNL North American Cup Finals qualifier, they have changed incredibly on and off the field. As they enter the final months of their youth soccer career this spring, a few of these players have shared their thoughts on the club soccer journey they have traveled, and the impact it has had.
What would you tell a young player at FC Wisconsin Eclipse to help them make the most of their youth career, and to help them understand what it takes to compete at the highest youth level?
Chloe Knudtson (CB, University of Wisconsin - Madison): I would tell a younger player to not take a single second for granted while at training. The coaches know what they are doing and want the best for each player individually, each team, and the club. Putting forth full effort in every activity and in every game will help you develop incredibly quickly. Also, don’t be afraid of anything. If coaches or other teammates are criticizing you, take the message of what they are saying and apply that to what you are doing. Your coaches and teammates want the absolute best for you.
Katie Hoefgen (F, Western State Colorado): You always have to consider your future and what your long term goals are as a team and an individual. Everybody has ups and downs in their career. Day to day it may not be easy but as long as you have the desire, dedication and discipline to getting better you can ultimately compete at the highest level. Remember that nothing worthwhile ever comes easy – if it did than everybody would being do it.
Steph Fabry (F, University of Wisconsin - Madison): Never take any practice for granted. There will be highs and lows throughout your youth soccer career but I learned quickly that the effort you put in during training determines what you will get at game time. It's so important to appreciate the high intensity training, the valuable advice from the coaching staff, and the opportunity to reach your maximum potential as a youth soccer player. Most importantly, it takes dedication to the game outside of team training to succeed in the ECNL. Although it takes consistency and diligence to put in this extra work on your own, it's that much more rewarding when it pays off in the long run.
Kara Baugrud (OB, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay): In order to make the most out of your youth career, listen to what the coaches have to say. They know what they're talking about, and they only want to make you the best you can be. It's tough, and you'll have hardships. If you listen and apply what the coaches tell you, you'll see improvement in your playing. Also recognize that there is no perfect player; when you think you have reached your highest potential, reach higher. Always push yourself to do more.
Looking back over your time at FC Wisconsin Eclipse, what is the one thing you will remember most?
Chloe Knudtson: I will remember my teammates the most. I have been through both some of the best and some of the most difficult situations with my team. We’ve run 120’s together, we’ve been criticized together, and we’ve won some amazing games together that we are all really proud of. In all those situations, we had each others’ backs and I believe we will stay friends for a very long time. The memories we have built over the past four years will never be forgotten.
Katie Hoefgen: I will remember the when we first arrived at the North American Cup in Virginia. You could feel the excitement in the air. There was a wall with every girls name and a red carpet you walked down with your team while people took pictures. During those moments I knew that everything we endured as a team paid off.
Steph Fabry: The one thing I will remember the most is the life-long friendships I have made through this unique atmosphere. The competitive environment can be overwhelming at times but it's comforting to know you have teammates to pick you up when you fall. My team has faced adversity throughout the years but it only made us stronger and closer as a team. I will never forget all the memories on all the soccer trips-- it's something I will really miss.
Kara Baugrud: The one thing I will remember most was when my team competed at the ECNL Finals in Richmond. The excitement of the red carpet and the environment it came with was surreal. I could look over at my teammates and see much more than a team bond. We became sisters, and we did everything for each other. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and one I will never forget.
How do you think your experience at FC Wisconsin Eclipse helped you the most in preparing for your future, on the field or off?
Chloe Knudtson: Since joining this club my U15 year, my confidence has grown tremendously. I am very confident in making decisions on and off the field. I know the confidence I have gained from playing at FC Wisconsin Eclipse will help me excel in my future schooling and even in my career. The coaches and all of the girls I have played with have really shaped the player and person I am today. I know I would not be the same person if I had not joined the club when I did.
Katie Hoefgen: By playing at FC WI Eclipse, I feel fully prepared to play at the next level in my career. On the field they have taught me responsibility, what it takes personally for me to be successful, and how to be successful as a team. The club has high expectations for you because they know you are capable of them. Off the field, and I know this sounds cheesy but, I really learned what it means to be a teammate. Having someone always there for you through the best and the worst is something that you can take and apply to not just soccer but in everyday life.
Steph Fabry: My time at FC Wisconsin Eclipse has molded me into the person I am today both on and off the field. Off the field I learned time management with various aspects of my life, determination to complete any task I am working on, and courage to accept myself for who I am. On the field I quickly learned how to deal with adversity, the importance of a consistent work rate, and my strengths and weaknesses as a player. All of these things have not only prepared me for my future off the field but also for the next level in my soccer career in college.
Kara Baugrud: FC Wisconsin Eclipse helped me prepare for my future by teaching me how to be accountable for my actions. Whether on the field or off, I have learned that in order to succeed in my life, I need to hold myself accountable in every aspect. I have learned that short-term adversity should not affect long-term goals. FC Wisconsin Eclipse has prepared me for any obstacle that I might face in the future
What do you think separates this club from other soccer clubs and experiences you have had or participated in?
Chloe Knudtson: I believe that not only the work ethic, but also the passion really separates this club from other clubs. We work hard in and out of training to get better. Also, we are very passionate in what we are doing and we believe in not only ourselves, but the club as well. We care about the club and everyone that is part of it. This year, I was able to have three “younger buddies” in our mentoring program. I help them with whatever they need just as they help me. FC Wisconsin Eclipse is a one of a kind club and I am so fortunate to be a part of it.
Katie Hoefgen: I think the main thing that separates this club from any other in Wisconsin is the practices. Everybody at practice wants to be there and wants to get better which leads to great competitions in everything we do. Nobody wants to lose, which makes for some really intense but very fun practices.
Steph Fabry: As simple as it sounds, this club separates itself from other clubs merely because it is the smallest club in the ECNL - everyone knows everyone in the club which creates a strong sense of family throughout all the age groups. It is a great experience to train with different ages all the time and create friendships with all of the players. I also think our club is unique with our style of play. As the coaches like to say, we are "blue-collar" because we are willing to out-work any team we play, and that is how we get our results. I think it is unique to be known for this because it shows our integrity and our determination to fight for results even if we aren't the most skilled or most talented club in the country.
Kara Baugrud: This club has exceeded my expectations in every way. Before coming to FC Wisconsin Eclipse, I was used to practicing with one coach and one team. I was most impressed in my transition by the style of training. Multiple coaches and multiple teams train at the same time, which I fully appreciate. You have the opportunity to make yourself better while helping out younger girls at the same time. This club is unlike any other in the way that the environment is full of coaches eager to teach you, and a number of teams striving to make each other better soccer players.