When senior Alix Schiraldi began her soccer career at Baker University, she looked up to her older sister Gina for guidance on how to adapt to playing soccer at the collegiate level.
This year, Alix is in the same position Gina was in three years ago now that her younger sister Shelby is a freshman for the Wildcats.
Although Shelby is a defender and Alix is a forward, they both try to help each other out on the field.
“(Alix) really knows how to push me,” Shelby said. “When I tell myself I can’t do it, she’s in my ear telling me to keep pushing and that I can do it.”
The sisters began playing soccer at an early age while being coached by their father Gino Schiraldi. Gino is better known for his playing days with the Kansas City Comets during most of the 1980s and the early 1990s, but he still coaches all three of his daughters.
“(Shelby and I) play for the same club, but not the same team,” Alix said. “We’ve played on indoor teams together, she’ll always play up (in age) with me and Gina, or in some tournaments, my dad will let her play up because he coached both of us, actually all three of us, so she’s had experience playing up, and I think that is why she’s so prepared for the season.”
While Alix was a key contributor for the Wildcats in winning a HAAC championship and making a NAIA Fab Four appearance, Shelby led Shawnee Mission West High School to a Sunflower League title and an appearance in the Kansas 6A state championship game.
The league championship and state championship game appearance meant a lot to Shelby, but neither one of those feats are what she will remember the most about her senior season for the Vikings.
“I think my favorite memory was when I got honored as the Player of the Year for the Sunflower League,” Shelby said.
Alix expects Shelby’s skills as a defender to play an important role for the Wildcats after defenders Chelsea Dunn and Carly Dickens graduated last year.
“(Shelby) adds a force to be reckoned with in the back,” Alix said. “She got first-team all-state in high school, and she’s just a big leader for us that we need in the back since we really have no defenders left (from last season). She really adds a physical force that we need because she’s not afraid to just take people out or slide tackle or do what she has to do.”
Freshman Ashley Mauck has played on some of the Schiraldis’ teams and based her decision on going to Baker in large part to continue playing soccer with Shelby.
“(Shelby) and I have been really good friends and been going to the same school since, like, kindergarten,” Mauck said.
With Shelby coming to play soccer for the Wildcats, Alix believes that it reflects on how special of an institution Baker is to be able to bring three sisters to the same university.
“We’ve known (head coach Nate Houser) for a long time and we’ve really trusted him and how he said we’d fit his program,” Alix said. “We really looked up to him for that, and I think just having a really good experience with Gina, with soccer and also academically, that I kind of followed suit, and Shelby did the same. We all have just had really good experiences, not only soccer-wise, but with the teachers and the school.”