The only player on the Andover Boy’s Basketball team with four years of varsity experience, Captain Brendan O’Connell ’13 combines his experience with hard work and devotion to lead the team throughout a rollercoaster season.
“The best thing about Brendan as captain, other than being a good kid, is that he cares,” said Head Coach Terrell Ivory.
With a record of 5-12 that includes several close, high-pressure games, O’Connell has proven his leadership by rising to every challenge and focusing on doing his best.
“My goals coming into the season were to get better and win games. I would say these goals have not changed but are now secondary to working hard,” said O’Connell. “No game is a walk in the park, and no team is unbeatable if you work hard.”
“Our team is not the most talented compared to some of the more powerful in our league this year, and that is something we cannot control,” he continued. “We can, however, control how much effort we put in during practices and games, which is why it has become such a major priority for me. I like to keep the team focused on individual play during the high pressure games.”
“Brendan does a good job of keeping a calm demeanor, and when the situation gets tough the team follows his lead. They stay calm and composed, and when you’re in a tough game, that’s the biggest advantage,” said Coach Ivory.
After first picking up a ball at the early age of four years old, O’Connell stuck with basketball not only because of his natural talent, but also because of the influence of his father.
“It was my father’s favorite [sport],” said O’Connell.
As a player, he displays a versatility that stems from his early exposure and many years on the court. Though usually a shooting guard, during Wednesday’s game against Tabor, he played point guard in place of Sahil Bhaiwala ’13, who was out for the game.
“Because he’s played so long, he has so much varsity experience, and he understands the game, so he was able to step in and play point guard without missing a beat,” said Coach Ivory.
His experience on the team and knowledge of basketball has proven invaluable off the court as well. “Being a new coach, when there are things like scheduling, getting food for the bus, or anything that has to do with the logistics of the sport, I go to Brendan since he has the most experience,” Coach Ivory added. “I can rely on him.”
O’Connell’s Andover Basketball career has not always been smooth sailing. As head of Indo-Pak and a key member of Andover’s improvisation group Under the Bed, O’Connell has a lot on his plate.
“Balancing academics and extracurricular [activities] with basketball was the most challenging thing for me during my first two years on the team,” he said. “By Upper year, however, I was able to find a good balance.”
O’Connell played his final home game last Saturday, in which Andover defeated St. Sebastian’s 78-41. As the season comes to a close, he reflects on how Andover Basketball has become an integral part of who he is.
“The Andover basketball program teaches its players how to be good people as well as talented basketball players,” he said. “All four years I have been on the basketball team, being respectful and dealing with adversity both on and off the court have been focal points.”
He added, “My coaches have taught me that part of being a good basketball player is staying humble.”
Looking to the future, O’Connell said, “I do not know if my body can handle four more years of a high impact sport, but even so I am still pursuing basketball in college.”