From player to coach: Ramaley takes over GHS boys water polo team
Not too many high school coaches receive an opportunity to guide their alma mater.
Greenwich High School graduate Jimmy Ramaley is just beginning that exciting chance.
Ramaley, who graduated from Greenwich in 2009, is the school’s new varsity boys water polo coach — a role Chris Vidale successfully filled the past three seasons, before taking over as coach at Marist College.
“I am really excited for the year, and I’m excited to lead the way,” Ramaley said. “I’m proud to be here be a part of a program that’s been the best on the east coast the past 30 years. Water polo wouldn’t exist in this town without this program.”
An assistant coach for the Cardinals the previous two seasons, Ramaley inherits a squad that posted a record of 25-4-1 last fall.
“The team has a lot of potential,” GHS senior co-captain Mac Baxter said. “We have a lot of young talent and a lot of speed, we’re all fast. So we should be able to counter-attack a lot.”
Senior co-captain Brian O’Leary and Baxter will have starting roles for the Cards, whose roster includes numerous sophomores and juniors.
“Our scoring will be balanced this year, because we don’t have that one go-to guy,” O’Leary said. “A lot of young guys are going to have to step up on offense. We really have to work, we’re not going to win just because we are Greenwich water polo.”
AT THE HELM: Ramaley played water polo at GHS under legendary coach Terry Lowe, who founded the program in the 1970s. After competing at Greenwich, he took his water polo skills to Iona College. Ramaley’s brother Paul also coached water polo at GHS, serving as Lowe’s assistant. The youngest of seven siblings in his family, Ramaley is a teacher at Stanwich School. Joining the coaching staff as an assistant is Darby Nevins. She also played water polo at Iona.
WHO’S GONE?: All-American standout Kevin Downey, who recorded an eye-opening 120 goals as a senior last year, graduated. Goalie Spencer Baxter, Conrad Moss and Andrew Triscari were among some of the team’s other graduates.
WHO’S BACK?: Baxter should spark the squad on both ends of the pool, and O’Leary will look to lead the Cards offensively.
“Brian will lead our counter-attack,” Ramaley said. “He can score from most places in the pool and he’s an aggressive player. He will add a burst to our offense.”
Nick de la Sierra (junior), Tegan D’Agostino (junior), John Caruso (sophomore), Charlie Clark (sophomore), Spencer Plavoukos (sophomore) and Kyle Laufenberg (junior goalie) are among some of the returning players.
STRENGTHS: Speed and depth are two of the Cardinals’ main assets.
“We have four or five guys who can come off the bench and help out in tough situations,” O’Leary said. “If someone gets tired and needs a break, someone can come in behind you help the team.”
Said Ramaley: “The preparation I’ve seen from this team is impressive. They bring it every day and they’re always ready to compete.”
QUESTION MARKS: Greenwich’s inexperience may show in some matches, especially against tough opponents.
“When the pressure gets going in big games, we’ll need players to step up,” Ramaley said. “But a lot of our players have competed in travel tournaments for a long time.”
OPPONENTS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Greenwich and Brunswick have built quite a rivalry the past several seasons. The Cardinals and Bruins met three times last year, with Brunswick winning twice. The teams could face each other four times this fall.
“Our biggest rival is Brunswick,” Baxter said. “We won one and they won two, so this year, we’ll try to improve on that.”
Wilson High School in Pennsylvania and Navy Aquatic Club are some other teams that should challenge Greenwich. The Cardinals will soon compete in the Beast of the East Tournament in Pa., and will travel to Michigan for a tournament during the season. They’ll end the season by competing in the Mid-Atlantic Championships.
“We are going to start off the season strong and end even better,” O’Leary said. “We definitely hope to win the Cardinal Tournament, the Beast of the East Tournament and take back the town crown against a very good Brunswick team.”