COLUMBIA — Columbia native Arianna Alioto, an 18-year-old freshman and varsity women's soccer player at Northern Michigan University, drowned in a school swimming pool on Friday shortly after the team's workout ended.
Officials are investigating why a lifeguard was not present when Alioto drowned. Northern Michigan University public safety director Mike Bath said lifeguards must be present when someone is in the pool.
Sarah Cavin, a long-time friend and soccer coach on the Carrera Soccer Club in Columbia, described Alioto as a far-from-average friend, daughter, sister and teammate.
Cavin said Alioto was funny. She was dependable. She was phenomenal. She was beautiful. And, perhaps the best description of her personality, Cavin said, was "unique."
"She poured everything into every relationship she had," Cavin said. "And she had no enemy in the world."
With a sense of humor that "controlled her life," Cavin said, Alioto had a unique ability to light up any room. Alioto was the center of attention whether on the soccer field, where she spent countless hours, or in a group of friends.
"She was always in the middle — never the background," Cavin said.
Alioto was a 5-foot-3 center midfielder who played soccer exceptionally well. She played high school soccer at Rock Bridge High School and played for the Carrera Soccer Club, a local Columbia team. She redshirted her freshman year at Northern Michigan University to recover from a knee injury.
For Alioto, soccer was more than a game — it was her passion.
"She was so motivated to play," Marc VanDover, Alioto's coach at Rock Bridge, said. "Her teammates loved her."
Cavin went as far as to say that there probably wasn't a single weekend that Alioto didn't set foot on a soccer field.
"Soccer was her life," Cavin said.
Alioto was close to everyone she knew. Cavin described her family as an "amazing, close and tight-knit" family. Both VanDover and Cavin recalled the love that Alioto's teammates had for her.
"Anna was the glue to the team," Cavin said. "And she still is."
A vigil in remembrance of Alioto is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rock Bridge High School, 4303 S. Providence Road.
Visitation is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W., and a funeral service is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.