While focusing on his career as a high school swimmer, Head Coach Dan O’Shea never imagined that he would find himself coaching Andover Boys Water Polo. Initially playing water polo for the social atmosphere of the team, O’Shea fell in love with the game and developed a long-lasting passion for the sport that combined his talent in swimming and interest in team sports.
“Water polo allowed me to take my swimming skills and put them to use in a way that was vastly different from racing. The training regimen was diverse and involved so much more than just swimming laps,” wrote O’Shea in an email to The Phillipian.
Eventually O’Shea brought his dedication to the game to Connecticut College, where he played at the Division III level for four years. In the offseason, O’Shea participated in a combined regional club team made of up of players and coaches from Connecticut College, Brown University and Yale University.
Prior to coaching at Andover, O’Shea founded a club water polo team based out of Newton, Mass., with a desire to grow the sport in a part of the country where it was not widely known. O’Shea coaches both Girls and Boys Varsity Water Polo, in the spring and fall respectively. Alongside this busy schedule, O’Shea currently plays with the Boston Wet Sox, a master’s club water polo team.
O’Shea is new to the boys’ program this year, but his methodical approach to the game has allowed Andover to improve every week.
Jonathan Xue ’17 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “He gives us a game plan and tells us what plays to run. We watch a lot of film of our games to see what we can improve upon individually and as a team.”
Watching film is one of the ways O’Shea tries instill a deep knowledge of the game in his players. His main goal as a coach is to make his team see the big picture of the game.
O’Shea said, “I want every player on the team to be able to analyze a game, be able to teach the sport to someone else and step beyond the basic drills and skills to understand how what we work on in practice is contextualized in a match.”
O’Shea joins in during practice and leads the team through example. His intensity forces players to be fully engaged during drills.
Dylan Norris ’16 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I think what really makes him a great coach is that he jumps in the water with us. He’ll play extremely hard defense on us in an attempt to make us better players.”
O’Shea is encouraged by the team’s response to his style of coaching.
“They aren’t afraid to evaluate their own performance and really take to the idea of being challenged. The level of engagement is simply outstanding,” said O’Shea.
O’Shea led Andover Girls Water Polo to its first New England Championship in 13 years. He hopes to have similar success with the boys program in the post-season.
Captain Nick Faulkner ’16 said, “He is great at player development and team strategy, and I think he is truly passionate about water polo, which serves us really well.”
An extensive playing career combined with a passion for water polo makes O’Shea a qualified coach who will lead Andover Boys Water Polo for years to come.