LINCOLNSHIRE — Sean Wimer knew Andrew Shashin was a promising prospect when he was playing club water polo in middle school. But Wimer, the Stevenson boys water polo coach, said he didn’t realize just how good Shashin could be until one Sunday last summer.
“What really tipped me off was there was an age-group all-star game last year,” Wimer said. “His team lost 20-19. He had 16 of the 19 goals, and there were two or three kids guarding him every single possession.”
Shashin, a Stevenson freshman, has emerged as one of the most talented water polo players of his age in the Midwest. Wimer called him “probably the best freshman that the state’s seen in a long time,” and Shashin was scheduled to leave for California on Saturday to try out for the United States’ 16-and-under national team.
Shashin stepped into Stevenson’s starting lineup this year and immediately made an impact. He was the Patriots’ starting center forward, a position rarely filled by freshmen because of the physical disparity between freshmen and seniors.
Playing center forward called for the 6-foot-4 Shashin to battle players who often were much stronger and older than him for position near the goal. When he was able to get the ball, he often had to fight off a second player when he crashed down.
“It’s kind of hard getting position,” Shashin said. “I try my best and most of the time I do it. As the years go on, I hope to get better and bigger and get position more often.”
Shashin excelled despite any disadvantage. He used his experience, technique — hip position is very important at center forward — and relentless aggression to get position.
Once he got position and accepted the pass, he was able to score often. Shashin finished with 93 goals in 32 games and was second on the team to standout Mitchell Sokolsky.
Sokolsky, Zach Stephens and Alex Divanyan will graduate this year after helping the Patriots finish fourth in the state, but Shashin and sophomore Alex Kapecki figure to form one of the state’s best offensive duos next year.
To see Shashin tap into his seemingly limitless potential should be an exciting prospect for the Patriots, especially given the work ethic he’s shown during his first varsity season.
“I’ve coached some great players — Mitchell Sokolsky, [2013 graduate] Rob O’Brien,” Wimer said. “Both those kids [were] top two or three players in the state, respectively [in their senior seasons], and they were some of the most self-disciplined kids I’ve encountered. None of them have had the drive that Andrew has.”