When Aldo Severson entered high school at Aragon, he thought he would just be a two-sport athlete. Having played baseball and soccer nearly his entire life, they were no-brainers.
He was coerced, however, into playing football his sophomore year and he rode that to one of the premiere three-sport careers the Peninsula Athletic League has seen.
This past year, his senior year, Severson stamped his legacy among Aragon’s elite athletes. As a wide receiver for the Dons’ football team, he caught 55 passes for over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, as well as being one of the elite kickers/punters in the PAL as the Dons went 8-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs. He was named the Bay Division’s Utility Player of the Year as well as a member of the Bay Division first team as a receiver.
He transitioned easily to the soccer field in the winter, scoring 17 goals and coming up with six assists, earning first-team Ocean Division honors. As winter turned into spring, Severson joined the Dons’ baseball team and, despite arm issues that limited his pitching, still did enough to be named to the All-Bay Division second team as a utility player.
All of this adds up to Severson being named the Daily Journal’s Boys’ Athlete of the Year.
“For the most part, year (I had a successful year athletically),” Severson said. “I set goals pretty high for myself. If you aim high, you get pretty good results.”
Steve Sell, Aragon’s longtime football coach and athletic director, has coached a number of amazing football players during his time. He puts Severson in that group.
“Every now and then you’ll get a kid who is just a great athlete,” Sell said. “As soon as he started (playing) football, he started scoring touchdowns. It became so apparent this year he could make plays. He single-handedly kept us in so many games. It was just uncanny. He broke tackles and scored touchdowns. He certainly doesn’t look like a guy who can break tackles. There are some guys who get near the goal line, they just find a way to get in it.”
Sell credits Severson’s success on the football field to his success on the soccer pitch. As a striker, Severson’s task was simple: score goals. He did that with aplomb this season.
“He was invaluable,” said Aragon soccer coach Greg Markoulakis. “Aldo was hurt coming into preseason. We missed him. When he was healthy, the team just took off.”
Paired with Ocean Division co-player of the year Ranier Plantinos, the Dons had one of the most dynamic attacks in the PAL. Playing up top as the lone target man most of the time, Severson never got frustrated and appeared to relish the opportunity to take a defender off the dribble. Once he had a step on his defender, Severson was tough to knock off the ball and, when he had the opportunity to score, he seldom missed.
“You have to be strong, you have to be patient … . He was the perfect center forward,” Markoulakis said. “He’s a goal scorer who can play at the next level. There is no question in my mind if he was pursuing soccer, he would have been snatched up, at least Division II.”
After soccer, Severson was poised to have a big year on the baseball diamond. Slated to be one of the Dons’ front-line starters on the mound, Severson saw his innings limited because of arm troubles.
“My arm, throughout the season, never felt amazing, so I never really had the command or speed that I wanted,” Severson said. “I had a little tightness last year as well. I guess I didn’t spend enough time in the weight room.”
Aragon manager Lenny Souza sees it differently.
“You ask him, he probably believes he had a bad season,” Souza said. “But if you ask me, he had a monster year.”
Souza said despite some issues on the mound, it didn’t affect Severson’s bat, as he batted over .400 on the season.
“He was definitely the leader of the team and he was the guy we wanted up in big situations,” Souza said. “He had a lot of big moments as a senior. He was awesome.”
But Severson’s ability to adapt to different sports and different positions meant he was not destined for the bench. The Aragon coaching staff transitioned Severson to first base, a position he had played only a little bit. He took to it like a seasoned vet.
“I played a little bit there last year and during the summer, but that was the first time on a consistent basis,” Severson said.
Said Souza: “He could fall off a stool and play any position on the field. He’s such an athlete.”
It’s hard to say what sport might be Severson’s best because he plays all three with a fluidity and poise rarely seen by three-sport athletes. All three helped Severson become the athlete he is and he wouldn’t have given up any of them.
“I have fun playing all three sports. I can’t really put it on (one over the other). It’s not just the sport, but the group of guys I played with,” Severson said. “It all comes back to having fun. You have fun, but you go out there and try to be your best and try to win.
“Losing isn’t fun.”
Sell, for one, is glad Severson didn’t specialize in just one sport, like so many high school athletes do these days.
“I’m glad he didn’t decide to focus on one (sport) in high school,” Sell said. “I think it’s way too early to determine what his best sport is.”
Severson will get the chance to find out what sport is his best at the next level as he plans on playing football at College of San Mateo in the fall and baseball in the spring at Skyline College.
Severson never thought of specializing. Not only because of the fun factor but because he believes playing different sports keeps things fresh.
“You get a break from the other sports,” Severson said. “It’s a lot less pressure than specializing on one sport and thinking this is the only route I have, that it’s all or nothing.”
Said Sell: “He’s a once-in-a-decade athlete.”