‘We’re friends on and off the field’: Meet the varsity soccer co-captains


Photo credit: Michelle Wolf

Varsity soccer captains Alessandra Aragon, Isabella Specchierla and Gabrielle Wolf pose for a picture before a game in 2020. All three of them began their Archer soccer journey in middle school, but in freshman year, they joined varsity soccer.

By Lizette Gonzalez, Features Editor

Seniors Ali Aragon, Gabby Wolf and Isabella Specchierla are the varsity soccer co-captains for the 2021-2022 school year. Although they knew of each other throughout middle school, their freshman year was the first time they crossed paths in Archer’s soccer program. Not only did soccer unite them in their passion for the sport, but it marked the start of their friendship.

“I saw them grow up and develop their soccer skills as we went through high school,” Specchierla said. “We’ve become great friends, best friends at that, through soccer. We’ve been inseparable since, and it’s been really great to lead the team with them because we communicate so well.”

Specchierla began playing soccer at 5 years old and her first memory of the sport was scoring a goal on her father’s birthday. For her, soccer always connects with family.

“I love the adrenaline I get from playing, but I also love the team aspect of it,” Specchierla said. “That’s a huge part of why I play, it’s a built-in family. I enjoy having that dynamic of making new friends and getting to know other people through the sport and through that shared passion.”

Similarly, Wolf started at age 5 and also currently plays club soccer for Santa Monica Surf Soccer Club. She said that the Archer community’s love for the team is her favorite aspect of the soccer program. She said she is grateful for having the soccer field on campus.

“We are known to have the best familial type bond and relationship on campus,” Wolf said. “I think we connect really well across grades, and Archer soccer, in general, has great spirit. People like to be part of this culture that is inclusive, and seniors always try to make it fun.”

Since all three captains started their soccer journey at Archer at the same time, Aragon said that their connection and memories help them lead with more enthusiasm.

“Being co-captains with Isa and Gabby is a huge honor and privilege, honestly,” Aragon said. “Since our first time playing soccer together, we had a strong connection. I remember the plays where we’d send each other on breakaways from across the field or cross each other to score a goal. I’m excited to carry Archer soccer traditions and lead this team with my best friends.”

Due to the pandemic and remote learning, the last time there was a full soccer season was two years ago.  Specchierla said that it’s been an adjustment for the team to return on campus after remote learning.

“We’re really adjusting but I think we are doing it all together and working as a team to support one another with this whole transition,” Specchierla said. “I’m really proud of everyone and everyone’s coming into it with a positive attitude and we’re going through it together.”

Additionally, it was difficult for Specchierla to play soccer at home and she noticed the repercussions the lack of playing had on her mental health.

“I noticed that when we were in quarantine, I had to stop playing soccer for a while and my mental health took a dive,” Specchierla said. “I didn’t notice how much I really needed soccer in my life up until then. I felt like I was missing a part of me when I wasn’t playing.”

For Wolf, one of her biggest motivations when she plays is her teammates. She said that it’s important for the team to be on the same wavelength, as soccer is a “team sport and not an individual sport.”

“I don’t ever want to disappoint my friends, I’m really hard on myself sometimes,” Wolf said. “You can’t get stuck in one moment of the game because, for me, that holds me back from playing well the rest of it. I think having my friends and everyone motivate each other and want to perform well for each other is special.”

Wolf said that each of their personalities adds depth to their leadership style. She said that because there is not only one certain type of captain or leader, each of their different strengths are important.

“I like to cheer and play music, that’s my responsibility. Isa is really good at making sure everyone is paying attention and Ali is friends with everyone,” Wolf said. “We all balance each other out based on who we are.”

Aragon said she is excited to incorporate the lessons soccer has taught her in her future.

“Overall, soccer has taught me many lessons about collaboration and how to work with the team,” Aragon said. “Although I won’t be playing collegiate soccer, I’m excited to continue being a part of team-based environments in college, and eventually in a career in medicine.”

Sophomore Sabrina Walker said the three captains empower the team through bonding activities during practices. One of Walker’s favorite aspects of their leadership is their energy before games. 

“On our way to the first game of 2022, they brought a speaker to the bus, and they started playing their playlist and rocking out,” Walker said. “They focus a lot on getting the entire team hyped up for the game. It was really beneficial and made us super excited to play together.”

Walker said she appreciates the captains’ communication and passion this year with the team.

“They are probably the best co-captain groupings I’ve ever seen,” Walker said. “They coordinate greatly with everyone and are always organized. We always know what we’re doing and that’s been important for our team.”

A goal that Wolf, Aragon and Specchierla have for this year’s team is to continue seeing joy and passion for soccer. Wolf hopes the team has this at the forefront, even after she and her co-captains graduate.

“I want everyone to have fun and just to be happy on the field,” Wolf said. “We can’t lose that, if we lose it then it becomes only about competition and pleasing coaches and that doesn’t end up being fun. If we keep bonding off the field then we have that positive environment and less stress.”

Correction Statement (Jan. 23, 2022, 11:00 a.m.): The article has been updated to now say Gabby Wolf plays club soccer with the Santa Monica Surf Soccer Club, not the American Youth Soccer Organization.