Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24 Values Friendship and Close Relationships with Teammates

With Andover Boys Soccer holding an undefeated record so far this season, its captains must uphold values of persistence, focus, and drive. Although Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24 strives to consistently maintain these values, he also prioritizes being an encouraging friend to everyone on the team.

For Matraji, friendship is one of the most important aspects of being a leader. He respects and maintains close relationships with all his teammates, who in return, push him to be a more effective leader. 

“I think I try to lead by example because everyone on the team is my friend, and I don’t want to boss them around and be a mean guy to them. So I feel like the best way for them to do what I do is to set a good example and show them the good and the bad things. And of course, they can help me out, and I can help them out so it’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Matraji.  

Peter Elliott ’24  values his relationship with Matraji. Although Matraji’s outgoing personality allows him to connect well with all his teammates, Elliott is particularly inspired by his ability to switch to absolute concentration once on the field. 

“Off the pitch, my relationship with Zane is super friendly, and he’s just an incredible guy, super fun to hang out with. And on the pitch he kind of flips the switch, and while he’s super supportive and super nice, he’s totally locked in and gets in this zone where on the pitch he’s not thinking about anything else but soccer. He’s not one to get distracted, and I think he does an incredible job of keeping us all focused and paying attention to the task at hand rather than straying onto something else,” said Elliott.

As an Upper, Matraji’s attributes still inspire the oldest players on the team. Tegan Doll PG ’23 shares a similar sentiment to Elliot, acknowledging Matraji’s personable qualities, but is also inspired by his exemplary technical skills that separate him from his competitors. 

“He always tells the team what to do. For example, when we start the warmup he’s the person who is leading us. His soccer skills are unique. He’s very good in the attack and his technical abilities are stronger than most of the abilities of the players of the team. Zane is a very good friend. On and off the pitch, it’s always fun to hang out with him, and he’s a really good soccer player,” says Doll. 

Matraji believes that the reason for his strong leadership is due to his love for the game. Being at his best every time he steps on the field draws out aspects of the sport that keep him coming back for more. 

“My favorite aspect of the sport is the adrenaline and the joy playing the sport that I love. That’s what keeps me coming back. No matter how tired or worn out I am. I know that the next day, I want to play as if it’s the first time I ever played the sport in my life,” said Matraji.

Initially needing to take considerable control of the team, Matraji has gradually become more relaxed in his role, in great part due to the team’s increasing efficiency during practice.

“Well I think from the start of the year to where we are in the season, there’s definitely been a lot of growth in terms of just getting to practice on time, and I can tell that there’s a change in the dynamic within the team. And people really want to get started and get going as fast as they can really without me having to push them as much as I did in the beginning of the year,” said Matraji.