By Jared Gregor
Shenendehowa Varsity and Freshmen boys crew coach Sean O’Brien ensures the success of his team through support and guidance.
“Sean O’Brien is a great guy with a good sense of humor,” says Michael Campone, a senior and Varsity co-captain. Campone has known O’Brien since he joined the team in sixth grade.
“He knows how to get a good laugh out of us,” said Campone, “but he also knows when it is time to be serious and achieve our goals.”
Campone, alongside Joshua Freitas, a junior, recently won sectionals, states, and nationals last spring in their boys varsity double. O’Brien, made sure to push them to their limits every day up until the race Campone said.
More recently, O’Brien coached his team to four gold medals, three silver, and four bronze in the 2016 fall season.
As a coach, it is O’Brien’s job to show the level of competition and effort that is needed to succeed.
“I believe effort is the key to success and that you need to be accountable for your own effort.” said O’Brien.
O’Brien said his day starts long before practice, going over practice plans, looking at notes from previous practices, checking and sending emails, and spending time making adjustments to the boats or oars.
Rowing is very weather dependant he said, he has to keep a close eye on the forecast so he knows what can be accomplished on the water. During a race week he is constantly checking the race schedule and heat sheet, making line ups, and working closely with the rest of the coaching staff to make sure the trailer will be loaded correctly and that all race entries are in and deadlines are made.
O’Brien was a coxswain and team captain for Shen Crew in 2000. A coxswain is the person who sits in front of the boat, steering and leading the team through drills and races. He says his experience on the team was very positive. His freshman coach helped him learn to love and appreciate the sport. As a coxswain he was constantly eager to compete and was asked to help younger coxswain after only one season.
As a coach, his enthusiasm extends much beyond the sport. The most important part of Shen crew is the learning process that rowers go through during their years on the team, he said.
His confidence and support has been a positive influence on the lives of many rowers and coxswain over the years.
O’Brien is very supportive of my decisions towards Shen Crew, said Amanda Hayes, a junior and Varsity boys coxswain. At the Head of the Charles, the biggest two day regatta in the world with the hardest course to navigate in Cambridge, Massachusetts, O’Brien was incredibly important towards the success of the team, Hayes said. As a coxswain it’s Hayes’s job is to get through that course which has six bridges and a 90° turn.
“I was beyond stressed and nervous to take on this course (as a sophomore) and I don’t think I would have been able to successfully finish the race without Sean talking me through it multiple times and walking almost the whole course with me to make sure I understood what I would have to do.” said Hayes.
All O’Brien’s rowers feel that same strong support, according to co-captain Campone, who calls O’Brien an educator and a friend.
In the upcoming spring season O’Brien says he is looking forward to working a little more with the younger JV rowers to help them get up to better speed and be more competitive.