Through her relentless enthusiasm and drive for self-improvement, according to Head Coach Lisa Joel, Allison Zhu ’19 earned the title of Andover Girls Soccer Co-Captain after acquiring a spot on the team just one year earlier.
“[Being elected Co-Captain] really says what her teammates think of Allison, which is: [she has a] strong daily work ethic, she’s a total role model, she’s a great leader. She leads by example – no matter what we ask Allison to do, she does it by 150 percent. She’s so positive and she never gives up. I just think she takes care of everyone on the team,” said Joel.
Equipped with unwavering positivity and devotion to the team, Zhu leaves her heart on the field and serves as a role model for younger members of the team, according to Isobel Glass ’21.
Glass said, “I think [Zhu] has proven to be an inspiration through her team spirit and [through her] being there for every one of us no matter what the day, who’s playing, or how we’re playing. I appreciate that she stays enthusiastic and encouraging all the time. She’s someone I look up to.”
Zhu began her soccer career at a young age, first playing recreationally and quickly progressing to compete in the elite club program De Anza Force near her home in California. After moving to Shanghai a few years later, Zhu joined the only competitive girls team in the city. The team, however, broke up after just one season due to a shortage of players, so Zhu, propelled by her love of soccer, found her way onto a boys team.
“I moved to Shanghai, China, in middle school, and immediately started looking for a competitive girls team. I ended up finding only one girls soccer team at the competitive level in the entire city. I played with Century Park FC for one season before the team broke up due to a shortage of players, and had to join a boys team at an age group younger,” wrote Zhu in an email to The Phillipian.
Despite not playing on an elite program in the U.S. like most members of the varsity program, Zhu has spent much time working independently to improve herself as a player, according to Joel.
“It speaks even more to her hard work and her determination and how much she loves the sport that she found her way to the varsity team,” said Joel.
Joel continued, “[Zhu] is a great athlete and she really works on really improving her skills. A lot of this work she has done independently. Some of her traits as an athlete that are exceptional would be her determination, her overall athleticism, and she has really, through her own hard work, improved her technical skill.”
As Co-Captain, Zhu has stepped up to create a strong and inclusive team atmosphere for all members of the team, according to Hailey Lovell PG ’19.
Lovell said, “[Zhu] made the transition of coming onto a new team really much easier for me, [Jess Moses PG ’19], and Isabel [Castro PG ’19]; she was really welcoming.”
According to Emma Fogg ’21, Zhu’s welcoming and lively persona makes her stand out as a captain.
Fogg said, “Allison has a really contagious laugh. When she laughs, she’s just so funny it makes everyone else around her laugh, and that also contributes to her being such a fun person and great captain.”
In addition to her inspiring attitude, Zhu exhibits leadership through her selflessness as a player and her dedication to the well-being of her teammates, according to Glass.
Glass said, “I would describe Allison as a strong leader who’s always very positive and looks to put all of the other girls on the team before herself and is always just on the lookout to be a light for others.”
Zhu’s selfless nature and her commitment to the success of the team make her a multi-faceted weapon on the field who, although most frequently plays striker, can be found at a range of different positions, according to Joel.
Joel said, “We can change her positionally, and she is going to do a great job for us… She does it willingly. She just really epitomizes [what] our team motto is, which is ‘do whatever you have to do to get on the field.’ ”
As an inspiration, Zhu said she looks up to Tobin Heath, an American striker known for her technic and shooting capabilities.
“Each one of my teammates on [Girls Soccer] embodies both of our team sayings: ‘Whatever it Takes’ and ‘Stay Classy,’” Zhu said.
Zhu admires her coaches, teammates, and fellow Co-Captain, Elise MacDonald ’19.
Zhu said, “I respect [Coach Joel] and [Coach Noureddine El Alam] as coaches, and great people. They set an example for us. I love how our team has grown together, and I am so happy to have made so many memories.”
Zhu continued, “Elise is an incredibly kind, strong-willed, and observant soccer player. As a center midfielder, she holds together our shape on the field, and is unafraid to make tackles and take risks… Elise and I work so well together — we play on each other’s strengthens and have each other’s backs when one of us has an off-day.”
Editor’s Note: Allison Zhu is a Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.