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Soccer

Former Whitney star Palmbaum playing overseas in Europe

By: Cameron Salerno
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ROCKLIN– Former Whitney High soccer standout Ryan Palmbaum is now living the dream.

While enjoying success playing for the Wildcats, the striker decided to leave school before his senior year in 2018 to play professional soccer in Europe. He enters his second year playing for Centre d’Esports Sabadell in Spain and was home visiting family last month.

“Since I left Whitney, my experience overall has been very positive,” said Palmbaum, who hopes to move up to La Liga, Spain’s No. 1 division. “With everything, there are ups and downs and especially in the high-level professional realm. I’ve just stayed consistent with my training and stayed humble through it all.”

Palmbaum was no stranger to playing soccer outside the United States. At age 11, he spent three years playing in Argentina.

“Moving from the U.S. to Argentina at a young age really taught me to not take what we have in the U.S for granted,” Palmbaum said.

Palmbaum considers himself nationalistic, but loves America and said his years in Rocklin have shaped him into who he is today.

While playing club soccer, Palmbaum caught the attention of the U.S. Youth National Team. He played two years with the 14-Under United States team under Hugo Perez before Perez was let go as coach.

“I think no matter what age and what category you play in, it’s an honor to wear the U.S. crest,” Palmbaum explained. “Being called to represent your country out of the millions of options is a big accomplishment, and it is something I am grateful for.”

After returning to the Rocklin area in 2014, Palmbaum played for the Blues Soccer Club and enrolled at Whitney High, where he played under head coach Joel Williams.

“Ryan came in as a freshman who enjoyed the game of soccer but was tired, and the first year, I was just helping him find his love and passion for the game again,” Williams explained. “We spent just as many hours talking about guitar and computer programming as we did about soccer.”

After playing under Williams for three years, Palmbaum received All-League honors his sophomore and junior years.

Williams said Palmbaum became team captain and was the glue that held the team together. Although an emotional leader, he also led by example, showing up an hour early for practice and also giving up a U.S. Soccer Camp to help the Wildcats in the playoffs.

However, an injury cut short Palmbaum’s junior season by six weeks.

“Ryan started to rediscover that passion his sophomore year and he drove himself to be the best…  He was the one who would call his teammates up to work out in the offseason and was that dynamic leader that every squad needs, but very few have,” Williams said. “Even though he gave up his senior year to play in Greece and Spain, he still reached out to the boys to encourage his teammates here to give their best and achieve all they could.”

In his three years at Whitney, Palmbaum knocked in 28 goals and racked up 24 assists in 62 games.

In early 2017, Palmbaum lived in Greece and played Division 2. He obtained dual-citizenship in Greece before transferring to Sabadell, where he signed a one-year deal. He said the club has been amazing and supportive.

“My goals for this season are to move up within the club, start getting recognized throughout Spain and, most importantly, helping whichever team I play with win,” said Palmbaum.

The soccer prodigy spent a month in Rocklin and will soon return overseas. He said he wants to play in the World Cup in 2022 for either the United States or Greece.

“In the professional soccer world, it is difficult to have a set plan because any little thing could put you on a new path,” Palmbaum said. “With that said, in my perfect world, I would like to be playing in the first division in one of the Top 5 countries in Europe (Spain, England, Germany, Italy or France) as well as being a regular factor in the U.S. Men’s National Team...  I really just want to play and show what I can do wherever I go.”