Andover Boys Water Polo Co-Captain Zack Peng ’21 has only played the sport for two full seasons, but has established himself as a cornerstone of the team’s success. According to Peng, he was introduced to water polo during his revisit day at Andover.
Peng said, “I’m a diver, and I was in touch with the head coach and he mentioned it to me. I didn’t know what sport I was going to do during [Fall Term], because I dive and I can [only] do that during the winter. During the first practice my [Junior] year I jumped in the pool, and I called it quits initially because I didn’t think I would be able to swim that much. The next year I jumped in again and tried it again, and I liked it a lot more that time. I’m a [goalkeeper], so there’s not much swimming I need to do there, luckily.”
According to Peng, despite quitting water polo his first year, the demanding aspect of the sport drew him back to try out again the next year. During Peng’s time on the team, he has learned to embrace the commitment that water polo requires.
“I love the challenge of water polo. Every day is a new challenge. You can find out new ways to play the game, how you can work well with your teammates, and how you can play your position to the very best you can play it. It is hard to love [just] one thing about it because every day there is a new thing to learn. There is always a new challenge or skill to master, which is why I love the game,” Peng said.
According to teammate Sean Meng ’22, Peng sets a standard for the rest of the team by leading them to the best of his abilities.
Meng said, “There are a couple different types of leadership, and [Peng] embodies leadership by example. As a goalie, typically you don’t really do swim sets with the rest of the team, but he’s always with us swimming and doing all the sets even though he doesn’t technically have to. He also works incredibly hard, and sets an example for everyone on the team, regardless of how long you have been on the team. [Juniors], Lowers, Uppers, we are all just inspired by seeing his example.”
Peng’s dedication to the sport and to improving as an athlete is part of what makes him an inspiring leadership figure on the team, according to Meng.
Meng said, “His work ethic is undeniably incredible. He is super fit as an athlete, and aside from being a great water polo goalie, he is also the school’s best diver and holds a bunch of records there. [A few days ago,] in practice, we did a grueling ab set and he was there. He isn’t a super loud presence, but everyone was watching him and just following his lead. He did the full thing, no slacking, and with perfect form.”
Peng credits his coaches and their knowledge of water polo for his success on the team. He also expressed excitement about working with new Head Coach Travis Bousceran ’14 this season, learning more from Coach Jill Meyer ’09, who taught him to play goalie, and Coach Alicia Finney, who guided him during his transition to the sport.
According to teammate Marcel Montemayor ’23, Peng has evidently strived to foster a supportive team environment during the Covid-19 pandemic while trying his best to ensure that everyone feels included.
Montemayor said, “[Peng] has always had a positive mindset, and basically gives that energy to everyone else. Even online, he tries his best to give that energy to motivate everyone even though we are still remote. [Peng] does an amazing job trying to keep the mood up and does everything [positively].”
According to Peng, he has tried to foster competition in new ways to include every player, remote and on-campus, in the challenges of the game that he enjoys.
“Before the season, me, [Co-Captain Theo Faugeres ’21] and [Co-Captain Gregor Deveau ’21] had a couple of Zoom calls with the rest of the team trying to get everybody hyped up for the season. We also wanted to try and include everybody who is not on campus and try to get them to feel included as well,” Peng said.
Editor’s Note: Sean Meng is a Business Manager for The Phillipian.