When Ayden White heard a coach from his soccer club was taking over the newly-formed UW-Eau Claire program, he figured some congratulations were in order.

So the Eau Claire North senior shot a text to Casey Holm, who will be the first men’s soccer coach for the Blugolds.

“I texted him and congratulated him,” White said. “And we talked. He said if I wanted to play soccer at UWEC, I had a spot.”

At the time, White was committed to play at Upper Iowa University. But the more he thought about it, the more it made sense to join the Blugolds.

So after some pondering, the goalkeeper decided the fit was too good to pass up. He flipped his commitment and decided to play at UW-Eau Claire, a decision announced by the Blugolds’ Twitter account this week.

“I just felt that it was right,” White said. “I really like the campus and it just keeps seeming to get bigger and better. And I feel like we’ll be really competitive in the next few years.”

Both of White’s parents are Blugold alumni, and he grew up around the school. Add in the coaching connection, and it felt like the perfect place for him.

Getting to help start a program from scratch doesn’t hurt either. The Blugolds announced the addition of the men’s soccer program last year, with the first team slated to take the field in the fall of 2021.

White said there’s a buzz among the current crop of recruits, which also includes Eau Claire Memorial midfielder Jared Nunez. They’re all ready to help establish a legacy for the new program.

“I feel like it’s really cool to play in something new, to start fresh and leave our own legacy,” White said. “We can’t wait, I think we’ll be really competitive.”

In White, the Blugolds are getting an athletic goalkeeper with a knack for making acrobatic saves. Time after time, he helped keep North in games with his play in net. He was a first team All-Big Rivers keeper last fall in addition to being selected to the Leader-Telegram All-Area team.

“You don’t come across a talent like Ayden has very often,” North coach Terry Albrecht said after the season. “He plays extremely smart and aggressive, what you need to do as a goalie. For our program, without Ayden White, it’s very difficult to keep yourself in games.”

Joining UW-Eau Claire comes with a caveat for any current high school senior. The Blugolds won’t play this upcoming fall, meaning White will need to wait a year and a half to play college soccer.

He’s not too bothered by the idea though. He’ll likely train with his old club, Sporting St. Croix in Stillwater, Minn., in the meantime.

He’s also hoping to help out the North soccer program.

“I just want to give back a little bit,” he said.

When he does get to suit up for the Blugolds, he’ll see a familiar face on the sideline. Holm was the boys technical director and college recruiting coordinator for St. Croix.

“I know he’ll be a great coach, because the teams he coaches are very successful. And getting to know him the last year and a half or so, he’s been a great guy,” White said. “He helped me talk to schools and talk to coaches. I’m really excited to play for him.”