O’Neill Reflects on His Time at St. Joseph’s Prep

Shane O’Neill

The past year-and-a-half has been a time of growth for Shane O’ Neill, in the classroom and on the ice.

O’Neill is a sophomore at St. Joseph’s Prep and in the midst of his first season with the varsity as an old school, stay-at-home defenseman.

“I’m a pretty big guy (6-0, 175),” he said, “so, I try to do my role to the best of my ability which is kind of locking it down in the defensive zone and making sure no one pushes the goalie. What I’ve found helps most is always playing a physical game, always keeping your head up.”
O’Neill also plays club hockey at the U16 AA level but he has adapted his game to fit the tempo of high-school hockey and the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference. He’s comfortable in his role as his team’s sixth defenseman.

“I love it,” he said. “I feel like I’ve learned so much from my teammates just in the past year and watching those guys; all of them are incredible players. I really learn a lot from them and not only does it help the guys around them get better, it helps me get better just watching them and competing against them, and seeing what they do.”

O Neill’s coach, David Giacomin, appreciates his approach to the game.

“Shane is a hard-working defenseman,” Giacomin said.  “He takes direction well and wants to get better. He is our sixth defenseman but continues to work and get better.  We reward his efforts by putting him on the penalty kill and power play from time to time.”

Giacomin notes that O’Neill came to the Hawks without expectations or a sense of entitlement.

“Regularly, young players have struggled with playing time on the varsity because they are used to being top in their club teams,” he said. “It takes a bit to understand.  Shane has never been that way. As a sophomore, he has come in with a mindset to fit in and get better every day. I think our team has made him better for his club team. He is a great young man to have on our team and makes us better.”

Shane O’Neill

As much as O’Neill had to modify his game on the ice, his most significant adjustments came elsewhere. He was familiar with the history and traditions of St. Joseph’s Prep; his uncles and grandparents had gone to school there as well as some older friends. But there was the inevitable adjustment to a vigorous academic workload.

“It was pretty difficult,” O’Neill said, “going from a workload of back in Catholic school or middle school of probably 20 minutes a night to having sometimes multiple hours a night, upwards of three hours. It was a lot of work; it took some adjustments to get used to it. Now that I’m used to it I feel like I have an edge. I know how to get things done efficiently and well.”

Like many of his peers, O’Neill had to develop time-management skills.

“It was a big challenge at first,” he said, “especially putting down the cell phone and getting homework done. I was playing for two clubs, practicing just about every night of the week and having multiple games on the weekend. It can get pretty difficult but once I got used to it was manageable.”

O’Neill appreciates the support of the St. Joseph’s Prep faculty.

“They’re always willing to meet before school or after school to talk to you and help you out,” he said. “They always are engaging and they do a really good job getting the information into your head.”

O’Neill is most proud of how he has grown as a student and as an athlete over the last year.

 “When first came to the Prep I saw some of those guys play and my draw dropped,” he said. “Some of these guys were ridiculously fast and I thought, looking at these guys play that I could never get to the level that they are.

“But, now, in playing with them and seeing what they do and learning from them, having them support you and teach you, it really helped my game out. I’m not quite at the level that they’re at, in terms of skill, but it’s fun to compete with them, it’s a lot of challenge.

“I feel the same way academically; there’s tons of really smart guys at the Prep and they’re all really nice and supportive and they’ll always help you out. And it’s really paid off, putting in the effort and watching myself improve.”

For more about St. Joseph’s Prep CLICK HERE

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