From his decision to transfer to Wisconsin from a top-tier program to his offensive firepower and ability to elude defenders, everything about Josh Thiermann exudes confidence.
A fifth-year senior forward/midfielder who joins the Badgers after suiting up for Notre Dame for three years, Thiermann is expected to be a standout player on Wisconsin’s offense. The Stoughton, Wis., native sat out all of last season due to injury, but the coaches are relying on Thiermann to make an immediate impact for the Badgers this year.
“Good soccer teams have a protagonist – he’s our protagonist,” head coach John Trask said. “He’s relentless, his pace unsettles the other team, he unbalances them … and he just has the desire to go to goal which we hope amounts to a lot of goals.”
Although it will be his first year on the field for Wisconsin, Thiermann has more experience than most of the players on what is a very young team. Playing in more than 10 games in each of his three years with the Fighting Irish, he has both the technical ability and leadership skills to take on a prominent role in his final year of collegiate soccer.
Despite never appearing in a game for Wisconsin, Thiermann was named one of three senior captains earlier this year. Though he was surprised by the selection, his coaches and teammates see it as a sign of his natural leadership ability and how well he meshes with the rest of the Badgers’ roster.
“He didn’t really let the fact that he was the new guy get to him, and instantly when he got on the field, players started to respect him,” fellow senior captain Colin Mani said. “He’s just a really good leader, and he’s got a great personality for this team and contributes a lot.”
To the surprise of many, Thiermann left Notre Dame, a national soccer powerhouse where he saw significant playing time, after his junior year. While he points to the fact that he never felt comfortable in the Fighting Irish’s system, the senior captain admits that playing for the team he grew up rooting for was a major part of the decision.
With several former childhood teammates already playing for Wisconsin, the senior forward believed playing his final year for the Badgers was the perfect way to end his career.
“I’m very, very close to my family, so being closer to home, being back with these guys who I played club with, it all just seemed like a great fit, a good way to go out,” Thiermann said.
While it’s still early in the year, the standout senior already made his presence felt in his first game as a Badger with a team-high five shots against Western Illinois.
A relentless worker who is always working to improve his game, the fifth-year senior has impressed coaches and teammates alike. Described by those around him as an incredibly driven individual, Thiermann sets a strong example for a team full of younger players.
“I’ve been coaching [over] 20 years now; I could only name one or two players that I ever worked with or played with that are putting in the amount of effort on and off the field to take care of himself, to be successful,” Trask said. “So he’s a great leader by example.”
Thiermann is hoping that his work ethic will allow him to take his game to the next level, as he aspires to play soccer professionally. Thiermann felt that transferring to Wisconsin gave him the best opportunity to finish off his career with the type of standout season that could land him a spot on a pro team.
In addition to the extra playing time Thiermann will see at Wisconsin, he believes the UW coaching staff will help him with the difficult transition to the next level.
“It’s been a goal of mine ever since I can remember,” Thiermann said. “Every single day just with the ball, trying to get better and better.”
“Absolutely, I think [the coaches] have prepared me [for the next level]. They’ve definitely turned me onto a different mindset toward the game, paying attention to the finer details.”
While Thiermann is new to the UW men’s soccer team, his quick adjustment to a new program and the instant respect he has gained from teammates make him fit the mold of a veteran Badger. Finally ready to suit up for his hometown team, there’s no doubt that the senior will add a major threat to the Wisconsin offense.
“I’m excited to be healthy personally, because it’s been a while, but I definitely think I can bring that experience, bring a little bit of a bite to our offense, and hopefully we have a great season.”