Midfielder Meredith Speck ’15 comes from a soccer family. Speck’s two older sisters played at Georgetown and Boston University, and she followed in their footsteps when she was offered a spot on the team at Yale.
But she then went beyond what her sisters managed to do, becoming the captain of her varsity squad in her senior year.
“Being named captain by a group of girls I respect so much was the greatest honor I have ever received,” Speck said. “I have always just tried to focus on being the best teammate I could possibly be and do everything within my ability to help the team.”
The captain’s last year on the Yale women’s soccer team could not be tougher, with an enormous freshman class joining the squad. Establishing her voice as captain was crucial in the first few practices, and she was able to do so, especially among the freshmen.
“I came into the team not really knowing what to expect but Meredith has been a great captain,” midfielder Aria Pearlman Morales ’18 said. “She made all the underclassmen feel included and at home with the team right away.”
Speck quickly established herself as a star on the squad. She has been selected to the first team all-Ivy League team twice, once in her freshman year and once in her junior year. She started every game in those two years as well, but could only play eight games during her sophomore year due to injury.
Speck’s contribution amounted to more than impressive personal performance, however, as her leadership among her teammates has been evident in prior seasons.
“Meredith was very encouraging on the field last year, and whenever anyone messed up, she was very constructive and patient,” forward Karina Kovalcik ’17 said.
Besides helping her teammates on the field, Speck helps the Athletic Department off the field as a paid intern for the coaching support staff, a job she has held since her freshman year.
Head coach Rudolph Meredith said that Speck’s leadership off the field extended to her play on the field. He also explained that he had no influence on the decision for Speck to be the captain.
“It is a Yale policy that the vote for captain is entirely up to the team,” he said. “The coaches have nothing to do with it.”
The role of captain will be a bit tougher this year than in previous ones, as the team’s freshman class is composed of 10 athletes. Head coach Meredith said that the coaches will help Speck with such a large group of teammates, and she will help them when they need it.
Both teammates and coaches, however, have noted that Speck has demonstrated leadership skills and a strong work ethic since becoming a Bulldog.
“Since first stepping on the field freshman year, Meredith has been an extremely good leader by example,” forward Melissa Gavin ’15 said. “Her work ethic and hustle inspires everyone on the field to work harder, and the team has always respected her for that.”
Other teammates remarked that Speck has been a great leader for the team and that she embodies the definition of a team captain. Meredith, the head coach, said that nobody works harder than she does, a crucial characteristic for a captain.
Players on the team noted similarities between Speck and last year’s captain, Shannon McSweeney ’14.
“Shannon and Meredith are both unique as captains and players in their own ways, but essentially embody the same characteristics and ideals that a great captain should hold,” goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 said. “Shannon had a strong presence on the field and was a terrific captain, and I expect Meredith to do no less while leading her team this season.”
The women’s soccer team kicks off its season at home against Quinnipiac on Friday, signaling the start to what Speck says will be a bittersweet finale as a Bulldog.