Connect with us

Athlete Profile

Andon Palmer a calming force as Whitehall’s three-year starting keeper

The Vikings junior could be an ‘animal’ as a position player, but he’s needed in net.

WHITEHALL – Whitehall junior goalkeeper Andon Palmer’s first name may or may not have derived from his father’s Star Wars fandom.

In that scenario, older brother Lukas Palmer would’ve been named after Luke Skywalker and Andon Palmer after Anakin Skywalker.

“My mom was saying, she was telling her mom about (the name Andon) and her mom’s name is Sharon and her dad’s name is Andy and so my grandma put it together right away and she thought that my mom named (him) after them,” Andon Palmer said.

“I don’t really know the whole truth (of what inspired his name), but those were the two connections that were made.”

This much is clear: The 16-year-old son of Tom and Lea Palmer is making a name for himself as a three-year starter in goal for the Whitehall soccer program with one more season to go.

The 5-foot-10, 155-pounder will be a key again as Whitehall (7-9-1) hosts Manistee (10-5-2) in a Division 3 district soccer semifinal scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Whitehall.

The winner of that match advances to Saturday’s 2 p.m. district final at Whitehall against the victor of the semifinal pitting Fremont (18-1-1) and Montague (10-8-1).

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Palmer has been rock solid in net for the Vikings this season. He has allowed only 26 goals in 17 games with 89 saves and a .770 save percentage. He has posted shutouts in two of the last three games.

Palmer has flowing, blond hair, but you might not get a chance to see it because he wears protective head gear during contests.

Adam Prince, in his first season as Whitehall’s boys soccer coach, pointed out that Palmer donned a Captain America goalie jersey last year but that he has scaled that back a bit to a more traditional jersey.

“He’s a different kid but, I mean, all goalies are. My son was a keeper and he was a totally different breed, too — I guess you have to be (in order) to be a really good keeper and let stuff just roll off your back,” Prince said.

“He never gets upset, he never shows frustration. Even when he makes a mistake, he doesn’t really acknowledge it, which sometimes gets a little unnerving for a coach. ‘You made a mistake and you’re not upset about it?’ But I think it helps him because opposing teams can’t read him, either.”

Palmer may not show much emotion outwardly, but there is a competitor inside of him and he is a young man with some depth.

Palmer sports a 3.986 GPA, pulled down only by the “A-minus” he received in Honors Chemistry. He may not say it, but it bothers the perfectionist in him.

He spends his mornings at the Career Tech Center studying the electrical and computer tech fields, but his daily class load also includes AP Psychology and Greek Mythology before he finishes with virtual lab.

Lukas Palmer was a member of Whitehall’s state champion 4×200-meter relay team during the 2022 track and field season. That was clearly his sport.

Whitehall’s boys 4×200-meter relay team of Nate Bolley, Lukas Palmer, Trannon Aylor and Malcolm Earvin won a championship in the 2022 MHSAA Division 2 track and field state finals Saturday, June 4, 2022, at Forest Hills Eastern High School. (Courtesy of Whitehall track)

Soccer is Andon Palmer’s sport, although he also runs track. He’s played the keeper spot as long as he can remember, but sometimes he does wonder what it would be like as a position player.

“I’ve been saying this, I think I’d be a good striker,” he said with a smile.

“(Goalkeeper is) a really fun position. I get to do a lot of fun stuff. The drills, like, they’re hard but I find it more fun than most of the other drills although I do like hopping in the other drills (for position players) and doing some shooting. … It’s just kind of an exciting position and it’s fun to know that it’s an important position on the field.”

Whitehall senior Kyler Frees, who plays midfield on the soccer squad and also serves as placekicker on the Vikings’ unbeaten football team, said Palmer is fairly low-key guy with a small group of friends but he’ll talk to everybody.

Frees said Palmer is “an animal” once he’s outside of the keeper box, but that the Vikings really on him as their “security blanket” as the last line of defense.

“I guess it’s really just his attitude. He always has, like, a really good attitude. Even if it’s not going his way necessarily or he doesn’t like it, he’ll still go 100 percent,” Frees said.

“He just stayed calm in tough games that we had earlier in the season. He’ll still keep his cool and be able to do his job in the back of the net.”

Prince acknowledges that Palmer would a “very, very good forward,” but that the team is best-served with him in net.

Photos by Shayla Hardy for CatchMark

“He yells at me every game to let him come out of goal,” Prince said. “Guys said the other day that when we were playing Newaygo to let him come out of goal. I’m like, ‘Guys, you don’t realize. We’re in the tournament. If he gets hurt now, we’re in trouble.’ But he has one of the best shots on the team.”

Whitehall’s boys soccer team has struggled to find consistency this season, but Palmer has been a steady force.

Prince said Palmer is “super athletic,” and that it’s super helpful to have him back for another year.

Palmer didn’t always possess his poise. He’s worked on that over the years with his the help of his mother, who has reminded him that it’s a team game and success or failure is never on one person.

“Some people say I look bored back there sometimes, but I’m always paying attention because you have to be positioned right and ready to react,” Palmer said. “I might zone out watching the action when it’s at the other end of the field, but when it comes to our half, they could be like 60 yards out and I’m going around the box following where I should be.

“Coach always said my biggest thing is I do get caught up watching the game sometimes and I don’t communicate what I’m doing a lot. I’ve got to get better with communicating – I’m always watching, but I’m not communicating.”

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Athlete Profile