Photo C/O Sevran Mammadov
By: Graham West
After a tremendous end to the season in which the men’s water polo team won bronze and the women’s water polo team finished fifth at the Ontario University Athletics tournament, the team looks to have a great season ahead next year, guided by the water polo OUA Coach of the Year Quinn Fairley.
This is the fourth time coach Fairley has received this award, and when asked about what winning coach of the year meant to the venerated coach’s response was quick to point out how much the team was involved in the award.
“The team really looked together,” Fairley said. “The way the guys operated in the water, the way that they communicated with each other. They were just a really together unit, and for me to win Coach of the Year, it’s an absolute compliment to them.”
Part of coach Fairley’s success can be attributed to his past experience as a player for the McMaster water polo team.
“I can relate to exactly what they’ve done,” Fairley said. “Especially as a McMaster player, you know going through the OUA season, going through midterms and all of the external stresses that a varsity athlete would have.”
He took a different approach with playing time for the season, to get more players in the pool. This tactic was successful as the players believed in each other’s abilities to make an impact in the pool, even though some players received less playing time for the purpose of chemistry.
“When I think of character, we put in a different system of substituting,” Fairley said. “Which meant some people actually played less than they might have in years past, because we just took a little different focus and a different way of going about it, and this is where the team brought in to it and then brought in to each other.”
Chemistry, camaraderie and depth are what coach Fairley attributes to their success during the season and at the OUA championship. Utilizing everyone’s capabilities and having a great foundation of trust in all of his players, regardless of experience, has been a great contribution to the water polo teams.
“What we’re building on more so is camaraderie, using a couple of key pieces but, the other side of our team especially by the minutes and by playing time we were without a doubt one of the deeper teams in the league,” Fairley said. “We made a huge step in culture, we made a huge step in the way that we operate together, and that’s really what the result is.”
After battling through adversity such as injuries and other issues over the past few seasons, getting a medal at the OUA tournament was really important to many players on the team. As something that has escaped the team for a few years, making the podium was definitely one of the highlights of the tournament.
“We’ve had teams that I’ve thought, and think still to this day, should have medaled prior to this year for circumstances, whether it be a poor performance or injuries or whatever, we just never got it done,” Fairley said.
The water polo teams will look to repeat their success next year, building off of this year’s newfound success while continuing the new culture of trust developed by coach Fairley as they strive to receive a medal once more.