Dawg days aren’t quite over

Photo by Jonathan Wang.


Goal after goal, sophomore Palmer Ault has proved that he is one of the best in the nation. His high statistical output and overall play led to him getting drafted into Major League Soccer (MLS) by way of the Colorado Rapids

Ault’s success has transcended every level of soccer he has participated in so far. In addition to his pattern of continual success, he has always set his mind on different objectives other than just scoring goals on the pitch. 

“The first goal was: I want to play for Butler,” Ault said. “Then, after playing for Butler, [the goal] is now I want to play professionally.” 

The jump from college to the pros is one that only 2% of men’s soccer players make. Despite the odds, it was always something that Ault worked to pursue. 

“It was always kind of in the back of my mind,” Ault said. “Same as playing Division I soccer was always the first goal. It’s kind of grown upon itself, and just having those goals in mind and setting myself up to achieve those goals is what I try to do each and every day.” 

Ault’s career has been a long time in the making. He grew up as a multi-sport athlete, playing soccer, tennis and basketball. Once he entered high school at Noblesville, he decided to devote himself entirely to the beautiful game. 

In four years at Noblesville, Ault set a school record with 173 points: 67 goals and 39 assists. On top of his individual success, he led his team to the 2021-22 IHSAA Class 3A State Championship. Ault scored a goal and had an assist in the 3-1 win over Carmel. 

As Ault’s decorated high school career came to an end, it was time for his next chapter. The college game was calling, but he was not highly recruited despite his accomplishments. One school that was drawn to him was Butler. 

“I’d always gone to the Butler soccer camps as a kid and was always familiar with the Butler soccer program,” Ault said. “The atmosphere that Butler brings was something I always strived to be a part of and really tried to get my name out there.” 

When Ault attended the Butler clinics, head coach Paul Snape took notice. Snape, the winningest coach in Butler’s history, remembered Ault from a clinic in 2011. 

“I was doing a clinic up in Noblesville,” Snape said. “He was about eight years of age and people told me he was a good player. You know he looked good for eight but there’s a lot that can happen.” 

Snape and the Butler coaching staff kept their eyes on Ault as he got older. The young forward kept showing up to camps and playing soccer for Indy 11, Indiana Fire, Indy Premier and Noblesville. After seeing his growth from that 8-year-old kid into a state champion, Snape extended an offer to Ault to become a Butler Bulldog. 

“When they gave me that offer I knew immediately,” Ault said. “It was a few days later that I called Coach Snape back and let them know that I’m ready to be a Bulldog and wear that uniform that I’ve always aspired to be in.” 

Ault’s career as a Bulldog started off with a bang in the 2022 season. He bagged ten goals and six assists on the way to becoming the Big East Freshman of the Year as well as a member of the All-Big East First Team. In 2023, Ault scored six goals, landing him on the All-Big East Second Team. He has had a lot of success, but it has not been a cakewalk. 

“College soccer is no slouch,” Ault said. “Especially at Butler [where] we play in the Big East, one of the best soccer conferences in the country. I would have to give a lot [of credit] to my teammates for pushing me each and every day.” 

Not only have his stats caught eyes, his play on the field has grabbed the attention of his teammates. Junior Henri Kumwenda labels his attacking partner as “tenacious.” 

“If you watch him on the field you see he puts his heart into everything,” Kumwenda said. “You’ll see in his performances, in the way he plays, the way he runs and the amount of effort he puts into every single game.” 

Ault ranked fourth on the team in total minutes played in 2022 with 1,562 minutes, followed by third-highest on the team in 2023 with 1,267 minutes. In both 2022 and 2023, he started every game possible, totaling 34 games started. The stats show Ault’s competitive drive, but behind the competitor is a player who just wants to improve. 

“He sets the standard,” Snape said. “He’s a well-put-together young man. I think he’s got a lot of emotional intelligence to go with all those traits, and he just keeps getting better and better.” 

Humility was a trait that came to mind for both Kumwenda and Snape when they thought about Ault

“He’s very reliable, very honest, very down to earth and very humble,” Kumwenda said. “I think that anybody that speaks of him will say the exact same thing.” 

The combination of athletic power and strong character caught the attention of professional scouts, leading Ault to his next chapter. 

MLS recently changed its draft rules to allow players who are collegiate sophomores and above to be draft-eligible. Previously, only collegiate seniors and above were draft-eligible. MLS also now allows selected players with remaining college eligibility to return to school, with their rights being held by the club that drafted them. This allows younger players to return to school and continue to develop, rather than going pro early. 

“I think these MLS rules helped everybody,” Snape said. “[In college] you’re going to develop, you’re getting closer to an education, and I think it’s a win-win-win for everybody. Plus it helps the MLS team.” 

Since Ault completed his sophomore season, he was eligible for the draft. When Colorado came on the clock with the 34th pick in December 2023, they took the young forward from Butler. For Ault, it was the culmination of years of hard work and tenacity paying off. 

“It was a dream come true,” Ault said. “It was just an unreal feeling of being selected by a team that believes in you and they think you can be something for them someday. As soon as I heard my name called I knew that this [was] just the start.” 

Ault joined a talented Rapids draft class that included two players selected in the top-five picks, Duke’s Wayne Frederick and Maryland’s Kimani Stewart-Baynes. Colorado selected UCF’s Anderson Rosa and Manhattan College’s Gunnar Studenhofft after they took Ault with the 34th pick. 

Although his goal of becoming a professional had come true, Ault felt like his time as a Bulldog was not done yet. Utilizing the new rule changes that MLS offers, he has opted to return to Butler for his junior year. 

“I think from the beginning what I had in mind was coming back and finishing out my degree here at Butler,” Ault said. “I think ultimately the path that we’re on here is exactly where we want to be, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of my time here at Butler and hopefully transition well in the pros.” 

While the pros will have to wait, Bulldog soccer fans will rejoice that they get to watch Ault play for at least one more year. The men’s soccer program is just as excited. 

“We’re so happy he’s here,” Snape said. “We’re going to make sure as one of our captains and leaders [that] we extract as much out of him as humanly possible … which will help his development when he gets to the pros.” 

Ault will have one or two more years to showcase his talents in the Sellick Bowl. The boy from Noblesville who climbed the ranks from state champion to becoming Big East Freshman of the Year and joining the professional ranks is not ready to leave his beloved Butler yet. 

“When I made that decision I knew it was the right one,” Ault said. “Still, looking back it’s been the best decision I’ve made and there’s no regrets in coming to Butler and playing for the Bulldogs.” 


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