Pulling his arm back, Captain Nick Faulkner ’16 whipped the ball forward, propelling the rocketing ball into the back of the net in the Boys Water Polo game against Choate on Saturday. Faulkner’s offensive prowess was showcased at the game, as he scored on seven out of his nine shots. The game ended in a narrow loss, helping Andover rack up 12 goals to Choate’s 14.
Faulkner, a four-year senior from Homer, AK., has made a splash on the water polo team since joining the team his Junior year.
Faulkner’s two older brothers played water polo at Andover, influencing his decision to try the sport. Upon immersing himself in the sport, Faulkner made an immediate impact.
“My two older brothers played water polo at Andover, and they recommended I play, so I tried it and I loved it. I stuck with it and now it’s one of my favorite sports,” said Faulkner.
Head Coach Dan O’Shea said, “He is the Captain of the team, he is the highest goal scorer on the team and he’s just an absolute monster in the water. I can’t think of a bigger type of success story than somebody [who has never] played before and now all of a sudden [is] the top player, to the point where other teams have to double him up at all times just because he’s such a threat. He has done phenomenally.”
Since joining the team, Faulkner has transformed into a strong leader and formidable scoring threat in other facets of athletic competition. Also a member of Boys Varsity Crew since his Junior year, Faulkner had no issue trying a sport outside of his comfort zone.
Although initially unfamiliar with some aspects of water polo, Faulkner has become comfortable at almost any position in the pool. Traditionally playing in the hole set, an offensive zone near the goalie, Faulkner abandoned his typical position this season and has seamlessly transitioned to the outside. Despite changing positions, Faulkner remains a constant threat to the opposing team.
Towering over his opponents at 6’7”, Faulkner is a vocal and intimidating player in the game. His awareness and height make the focal point of many of the team’s plays.
Coach O’Shea said, “He’s really aggressive about getting the ball, and he’s really aggressive about maintaining his position in the water, so that makes him a very effective and strong player.”
Furthermore, Faulkner’s selfless nature as a teammate benefits the entire team.
“[Faulkner] is a great leader. He has a huge presence on the team in practice and during games. He is very dedicated to the sport and brings the whole team closer. He is always willing to help out the less experienced players on the team, including myself,” said team member Thomas Choi ’16.
Coach O’Shea said, “The biggest thing that I really think that he does well, is that he is willing not only to be a leader in the typical sense of the word, but he is also willing to be a teacher.”
As a captain, Faulkner emphasizes the technical aspects of the game. During practices, he helps lead drills, passing his knowledge of the sport to other team members.
Faulkner’s favorite moment in his water polo career was the 2013 NEPSAC League Championship win over Exeter.
“We were underdogs going in and had lost to [Exeter] earlier in the season. It was just absolutely one of the best moments in my athletic career,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner continued, “My goal for every season is to make the playoffs, so that holds true for this year. Considering this is my last year on the team, I think that this is extra motivation for me.” Holding a record of 2-5, Andover has some work ahead of it progressing to the postseason. With Faulkner as its leader, however, the team has high hopes for this year’s championship.