Following a Sasha Newton ’16 go-ahead goal late in the fourth quarter, Girls Water Polo Assistant Coach Jill Kozloff ’09 rallied her players as the seconds wound down at the end of the NEPSAC Girls Water Polo Championship. Kozloff stood on the sidelines, urging her players to stay focused for a few more seconds. As soon as the horn sounded, signaling the end of the game, Kozloff and Head Coach Daniel O’Shea jumped into the water to celebrate the second NEPSAC Championship in Andover Girls Water Polo history.
Kozloff coaching prowell on the pool deck with Boys Water Polo Head Coach David Fox and Girls Water Polo Head Coach Dan O’Shea has earned her The Phillipian’s 2013-14 Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
Kozloff began her water polo career as a Junior at Andover.
“I had never played water polo before coming to Andover, but my revisit [host] played, and she encouraged me to get involved. I had swam my entire life, so it was an easy transition, and I just fell in love with the sport. All of my friends did it, which was helpful, and I loved the team. It was a really nice way to be involved with athletics for four years,” said Kozloff.
Despite an illustrious Andover Water Polo career, Kozloff did not continue playing Water Polo competitively at Wesleyan College. She did, however, continue the sport recreationally.
At Andover, Kozloff played under Cindy Efinger, the Girls Water Polo Coach from 2005-2011.
“[Efinger] instilled a great work ethic in all of us, and she made sure we got the most out of our practices every day—she wanted us in the pool on time, every single day,¨ said Kozloff. ¨Most of all, she got us to work hard, especially in practice. She used to say, ‘If you’re not giving your all during practice, it’s going to be that much harder for you and your teammates to succeed in a game setting.’”
She continued, “That drive and work ethic is one thing I took from Coach Efinger, and I tried to make sure that my players were pushing each other in practice every day.”
Despite having gone through the water polo program as a student, Kozloff came back to Andover looking at completely different programs run by O’Shea and Fox. The head coaches’ tightly run ships, however, helped make Kozloff’s return to the program easier.
“[Coach O’Shea] played in high school and college, so he has a really strong background in the sport, and he just runs an outstanding program. And Coach Fox also has deep experience with water polo, and he runs his practices really well,” said Kozloff.
Kozloff’s biggest impact on the team may have been her effect on team morale and attitude.
“From my experience, I just remembered how much I looked forward to going to practice every day, so coming back as a coach, I tried to make it worth [the players’] time, and I tried to make sure the players were having fun,” said Kozloff.
“Coach Kozloff always had an optimistic outlook on every game we went into, and she was a great support system on the team beside Coach O’Shea,” said Alexa Rodriguez-Pagano ‘16. “It was apparent that Coach Kozloff genuinely cared about the team because she always had our best interest in mind. She got to know each and every player, not only in the water but on a personal level as well.”
While Kozloff, a teaching fellow, will leave Andover to work as a research assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the fall, she will miss working with Andover Athletics.
Said Kozloff, “Obviously, the championships were awesome, but I feel like coaching and athletics is where you get Andover kids at their best. They’re not worried about grades, and they’re with a group of people that they have something intrinsically in common with. I’ll definitely miss working with kids at their peak. I think that is when kids are at their happiest, and that’s the biggest aspect of coaching that I’ll miss.”