MARQUETTE - A solemn crowd of at least 200 gathered in the frigid December air Saturday night to participate in a candlelight vigil for a Northern Michigan University freshman and women's soccer player who drowned Friday in a university pool.
Arianna Alioto, 18, drowned shortly before 6 p.m. Friday in the the Physical Education Instructional Facility pool at the end of a soccer team workout, according to NMU's Communications and Marketing Department.
Hailey Beyrand, a fellow freshman on the team, said the group was gathered together when they received the tragic news of Alioto's death. She said the team wanted to hold the vigil to bring together everyone on campus who was affected by the passing of someone Beyrand described as a very close friend.
A crowd of supporters surrounds Northern Michigan University women’s soccer team members Saturday night as they held a candlelight vigil in honor of their teammate, freshman Arianna Alioto. Alioto, 18, drowned in the Physical Education Instructional Facility pool Friday evening. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
"We were best friends. We were extremely close," she said. "The freshmen girls, we bonded together immediately."
The gathering began inside the lobby of Magers Hall, where Alioto lived, and soon moved out into the courtyard. The NMU soccer team formed a circle and was immediately surrounded by the crowd of supporters.
Other NMU sports teams attended the vigil, including the men's club hockey team. Evan Weber, captain of the team, said they were there to also show support for one of their team members, who had been dating Alioto.
He said the crowd that made its way to Magers Hall for the vigil not only was a reflection of the outstanding character of Alioto, but of the NMU community as a whole.
"It shows how much the NMU community really supports one another," Weber said. "It really speaks volumes about, obviously, who she was. So, just to see this many people, it's amazing."
Prior to the vigil, Beyrand held back tears as she talked about her friend and teammate, and what it meant to see so many people gathered to remember her.
"It shows me how truly loved Anna was," Beyrand said. "She wasn't here for very long, but she made a big impact."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.