According to Donchi, being one of the more experienced players on the team motivates him to serve as a role model and cater to new players on the team.
“In the pool, I try to set a really good example for everyone else on the team by working hard and respecting everyone else.” Donchi continued, “When working on new drills and such, we try to divide up the experience levels…. I try to work with the younger guys on the team and get them through the basics. Additionally, our Assistant Coach, [Alicia Finney,] has been a great resource for the younger guys.”
With new Head Coach Dale Hurley joining the team this year, Donchi has been working to make a smooth transition for the team.
“I try to lead in collaboration with Coach Hurley. As someone who has not been connected to the game in a while, there are certain things that I am able to help with, but whatever he says is final,” said Donchi. “I try to keep everyone motivated and in a good mood by leading by example. Everyone is going through the same thing at every practice, so there’s not really a reason to complain.”
According to teammates Hank Yang ’22 and Zach Hooven ’22, Donchi maintains a constructive, positive environment, while also making sure to challenge his teammates.
“Sam is really good at pushing others around him to be better players, while also teaching them the important things about the game,” said Hooven. “He leads our team during games through communication, good play, and acting as one of the hype men. The team environment with [him] is fun, while serious and competitive, as well as inclusive.”
“He makes sure we don’t slack off in practice, such as no standing on the bottom or doing the drills right,” added Yang. “Every time, he gives us 100 percent, and he makes a big impact on everyone else on the team… He’s also a very cheerful and uplifting person. He likes to crack jokes every now and then to maintain a positive atmosphere.”
In addition to being a leader on the team, Donchi backs his leadership up with consistently strong play in the pool.
Yang said, “[Donchi is] really skillful and can spin past defenders fairly easily, usually leading to a scoring effort. He also has great vision, being able to assist other players.”
Although Donchi is instrumental in the development of his teammates, he also works hard to improve his own skills.
“I think that as a water polo player, I am very focused and eager to learn,” said Donchi. “I started playing when I got to Andover, but there are guys on the team who have been playing for years. In that regard, I always feel like there is more that I can learn and improve upon.”
Outside of games and practices, Donchi continues to build team camaraderie and trust through dinners and outside team activities.
“He encourages team bonding by having team dinners after practice. He also sends us emails before games to motivate us,” said Yang.
According to Donchi, the other seniors on the team also help by showing leadership and establishing a lighthearted atmosphere.
“I try to keep the environment of the team positive, but I attribute that to many of the other players as much as I do to myself. All of the upperclassmen on the team have been super helpful when it comes to keeping the energy up and setting a good example for the newer people on the team,” said Donchi.
Donchi looks to continue leading his team to success in his final year at Andover.