Sports Winter Track & Field

Co-Captain Zach Moynihan ’21 Is a ‘Positive and Encouraging Leader’

Co-Captain Zach Moynihan ’21 started long jumping last season, improving from 14’ 10.75” to 18’ 3.5” by the end of the winter.

Courtesy of Rebecca Hession

(L-R) Co-Captain Zach Moynihan ’21, Co-Captain Ayana Alemayehu ’21, Alex Oder ’21, and Alex Schimmel ’22 made up Andover’s record-breaking 4×200-Meter relay team in the 2019-2020 season.

Originally a soccer player, Zach Moynihan ’21 was drawn to Boys Indoor Track & Field for the sense of community it offered. As Co-Captain of the 2020-2021 season, Moynihan continues to foster camaraderie on the team and, according to teammate Alex Shieh ’23, inspires his teammates through his kindness and supportive attitude. Shieh said, “[Moynihan] is really outgoing and friendly, so it’s really easy to approach him and talk with him… He’s also very encouraging; when you’re running, he always motivates you and tells you to go faster.”

When and why did you join Track & Field? Describe your experience with athletics prior to Andover and how they led up to track.

“I played soccer before Andover, and I played a couple seasons here. One thing I liked about the sport was that it was very fast-paced, and I could really show my speed on the field. And so I thought, before coming to Andover, I would really want to join the track team and become a sprinter. My dad was really big into track in high school, and he always told me about the team dynamic and atmosphere, and that was something I really wanted to be a part of. He was a distance runner, but I have asthma so that would not be possible for me, so I decided to join the team as a sprinter. I’ve loved it ever since.”

What is special about being on the 4×200-Meter Relay team?

“I would say the 4×200-Meter Relay and other relays are my favorite aspect of track because, while other events are individual, this one is really team-focused. Staying after practice to try out those hand-offs and really perfect them is a lot of fun, and it’s really great to get to know your fellow relay members and be a part of that–it’s really an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Another thing I like about it is that the rest of the team, of about one hundred or so people, really get excited about relays, more than any other event. They get up on their feet, cheer us on, and they run to the final stretch for the last leg of the relay. It’s really exciting, and one of the best things about being on the track team.”

Are there any previous coaches or teammates that you look up to? How have they shaped you as an athlete?

“I really look up to all my past captains for their leadership and athleticism. One that really comes to mind is Fredericka Lucas [’18], she was the indoor and outdoor captain my [Junior] year. She was an incredible athlete, but she was kind, approachable, and really made you feel like you belonged on the team. Like I said, it can be daunting joining this massive team as a [Junior], but if you have a welcoming presence like I did in Fredericka, you really feel like you’re a valuable member of the team. And that’s when I really fell in love with the sport, seeing her compete and welcome everybody as members of the team.”

Are there any meets that are particularly memorable or stick out to you? 

“I always enjoy the meets that we have against [Phillips Exeter Academy]. Naturally, those are the meets where everybody gets really excited and intense with the competition. Looking back, there’s not any one meet, because we have so many and there are so many things that go into one meet. Meets are hours long. But looking back at the times when we all packed into a bus on a Wednesday afternoon, freezing cold in the middle of winter term and headed up to Exeter, and competed there and brought our all–that was the best. I guess one particular meet that really sticks out to me is a meet at Exeter during my [Junior] year. It was toward the end of the season in February, it was the ninth and tenth grade meet. Now of course I can’t participate in those anymore because I’m a Senior, but those meets are so much fun because you, as a [Junior] or Lower, are now the leaders of the team, and you get to do it your own way. I remember [during] the ninth and tenth grade meet my [Junior] year we had fought really hard against Exeter, I can’t remember who won, that doesn’t really matter in my mind, but I remember going back to the bus after that meet and hearing murmurs that it was Head of School Day the next day. And that bus ride back was amazing because we were all so tired after that meet, and to know that we didn’t have classes the next day was the cherry on top–that is a meet that really sticks out to me.”

As a captain, how do you try to motivate and inspire your team to be their best in both practice and meets?

“I really try to take the warmup seriously. I feel like at the start of practice after classes end, everybody just wants to hang out and talk and not pay attention, but if you set a good example with your fellow upperclassmen, you focus everybody on the practice ahead. That doesn’t mean you don’t have fun, you just get everybody in the mindset to compete that day, and I feel like once you have that cohesive group of athletes who really want to workout and try that day, that’s what motivates people and gets them excited for the sport.”

Track can be an individual sport for some, how do you interact with your team as a captain to build camaraderie?

“There’s no way I could lead this team without the help of my fellow Co-Captains. What’s new about the track team this year is that we have four Co-Captains rather than two that we’ve had in the past. So working with them before and after practices to plan how we’re going to engage with the entire team as well as working with the coaching staff has been really helpful in leading this team. At the end of the day, it’s really just about making a fun and welcoming environment for all the new and returning members of the team. We carry on our traditions as a way to welcome new people on the team to make them feel like they belong, and we just try to have a lot of fun as Co-Captains. It’s easy to take your own events and your own times really seriously, but taking a step back and cheering everyone on makes the team feel more cohesive.”

What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned from being on the track team? How has being on the track team influenced your time at Andover?

“I’ve learned to do things that scare me. When I joined the team as a [Junior] and had my first meet, I was terrified. I didn’t know how to set up my starting blocks, I didn’t know which arm to put my number on, I didn’t know where to go for my events, and I was freaking out that I would miss my events. Sometimes I still get afraid that I’ll miss my events. But it was embracing all of those fears, learning from them, and being able to guide the next generation of athletes and quell their fears and get them excited for the sport that I’ll really take away. Track has really taught me to channel the stressors of a meet and competition into real success. I am going to leave not remembering my [Personal Records], distance I got long jumping, or times I got on the 4×200-Meter Relay—I’m going to remember the teammates I met and the fun we all had together. I met some of my closest friends during my Andover experience on the track team, people from all grades and from all over Andover. I would not have been able to do that and make those friends without the track team, so I’m really thankful for my time there.”

Editor’s Note: Zach Moynihan is the Executive Editor of The Phillipian.