Entering his fifteenth year at the helm of the Andover Boys’ Varsity Hockey team, Head Coach Dean Boylan continues to make his mark on and off the ice by teaching lessons to his players about both hockey and everyday life.
This season, Boylan has aimed to create a hard-working and inclusive environment for the team by emphasizing the importance of the immediate future and applying the basics, such as shooting lanes and blocking shots. The team currently holds a 7-11-3 record.
“We just want to keep improving ourselves. The wins will take care of themselves. We just need to work hard and strive to improve. I really want us to continue to challenge ourselves to get better, we talk about that before every practice. If we do that in practice, it’s going to show up in the games. That’s our challenge,” Boylan said.
Boylan makes sure that his team understands that no single player is more important than the rest of the team and that every single player must do their job in order for the team to succeed during games and practices.
“I enjoy the quality of the kids that come through Andover. Obviously, all of them are very intelligent, but beyond that, it’s the whole package with the kid. They are really wonderful kids to be around which is why I’ve been doing this for seventeen years,” Boylan said.
As an experienced player and coach, Boylan has learned many valuable lessons throughout his hockey career.
He said, “My duty is to challenge players, but I’ve learned that each player is different. Learning how to push each player’s button is sometimes difficult. I’ve learned a lot of things over the years from my three terrific assistant coaches. They bring a lot to the table. It’s all about challenging kids to make themselves better.”
Boylan’s goals for his team go beyond the number of wins in its record and center around the making sure that his players learn valuable lessons about teamwork and motivation.
“Ultimately, it’s lessons learned on the ice or in the locker room taken outside to both the Andover community and to their professional careers. So, my hope is that we’re teaching them more about life lessons than we are about hockey lessons,” Boylan said.
Newcomer and second-line center Jack Cusack ’18 said that Boylan welcomed him into the team immediately, helping him to improve and grow as a player.
“[Coach Boylan’s] been great. Since the first day of tryouts, he’s looked out for me. He’s helped me through a lot and has given me a great opportunity this year to play on a higher standard and level,” Cusack said.
Cusack continued, “Coach Boylan has a lot of experience. He’s coached some of the greatest players who have gone through this program. The way he can build relationships is something I enjoy and admire the most about him. He is very interactive with players and is very personable.”
Having served as Assistant Coach for two years before becoming Head Coach, Boylan has been a member of the Andover Ice Hockey coaching staff for a total of seventeen years.
Boylan’s favorite part about coaching Hockey at Andover is the opportunity he’s been given to coach both hard-working and determined athletes. In addition to working with players during their Andover careers, Boylan makes a strong effort to keep in touch with his athletes as they enter college and adult life.
“[The best part of coaching] is definitely the relationship with the kids, during both their time at Andover and also after they graduate … I still stay in touch with many of them as they’ve gone onto their professional careers, so that is one of my favorite parts of the job,” he said.
In addition to Andover Hockey, Boylan coaches in other programs such as the Andover Hockey Association, as well as a junior program that he has worked to develop. Prior to coaching, Boylan played hockey in high school, college and the professional league.
When asked about his years of playing hockey professionally, Boylan said, “It was in the old WHA, which is the World Hockey Association. It was back in the 70’s when they were competing with the National Hockey League, but then I played in the minor league systems for just two years.”
Under Boylan’s leadership, Andover Boys Hockey hopes to end its season on a high note. The upcoming games against Tabor, Brooks, Northfield Mount Hermon and Exeter will determine its final record for the season.