Olympian from home: MA local Sean Farrell’s journey to the Olympics

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Courtesy of Sean Farrell

Winter Olympian Sean Farrell skates along the edge of the rink, gearing up for the upcoming game. “Even as hockey has gotten more competitive, and there are higher stakes on the line, at the end of the day it’s just the game I love to play, and I’m really fortunate to be playing it,” Farrell said.

By Nina Wilson, Wayland High School

Since his parents first strapped on his skates at his grandparents’ lake house in Milford, MA, Sean Farrell has been on a quest to become an Olympian. Growing up in Hopkinton, MA and attending high school at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Farrell was always surrounded by some of the most elite teams in the country when it came to men’s hockey, especially at the collegiate level.

Farrell dove head first into his competitive yet excitable Massachusetts community from a young age, sparking a love for the game that would stick around for many years to come. This love would help propel him to one of the highest level of hockey achievement: the Winter Olympic games.

Farrell’s love for playing was supplemented by wanting to learn from others, and for that he always turned to games. As a kid, he was always at the rink. The experience was more than entertainment: it was an inspiration to someday play at that level. And, it was training. Farrell watched games closely, looking to pick up on tips he could employ himself.

“I think for me it’s kind of just about working hard and trying to learn as much as I can,” Farrell said.

Farrell played on club teams near Hopkinton before getting the opportunity to play at St. Mark’s School. Farrell impressed coaches time after time with the devotion he put behind his playing. Although he came to the school as a freshman, he shot up through the ranks, becoming 5th in New England in scoring.

“What separates Sean as an athlete from a lot of his peers is his strong, high athletic IQ,” Farrell’s high school coach at St. Mark’s, Carl Corazzini, said. “The thinking of the game comes naturally to him.”

Corazzini said that Farrell’s ability to understand the game and skillfully predict where the puck will go next has put him at an advantage to his opponents for a long time. For some, this would be enough to feel capable in their skills. Not for Farrell. Corazzini does not think that Farrell’s natural skill has carried him this far alone. It is matched by his speed, shooting abilities and his unassuming nature. One factor of Farell’s game that Corazzini most admires is his willingness to share the ice.

“We tried to get him to realize at St. Marks that he didn’t always have to pass the puck to his teammates,” Corazzini said. “That was a struggle for him because he wanted to make his teammates better. Sean never came off as thinking he was the best. He really just wanted to be part of a successful team.”

With the destination of college hockey quickly approaching, Farrell was given the choice to choose between a multitude of the nations best programs. For him, the offer to play for the Harvard Crimson Men’s hockey team with coaches he highly respected and a world class education was not one he could pass up.

“Growing up going to Harvard, [Boston University], [Boston College] games, it was always really my goal to play at one of those schools,” Farrell said. “To have that happen here at Harvard has been an amazing dream come true.”

Once this goal had been reached, it seemed Farrell had gotten everything he ever could have imagined when it came to the hockey world. But once he had reached that fulfillment, there was another knock at the door. This came from the Winter Olympic Committee, announcing that Farrell would have the chance to play in Beijing in 2022.

The opportunity to be featured on American Men’s Hockey’s youngest roster since 1994 was something that Farrell felt he had to take advantage of. At just 20 years old, he could not have expected that the 2022 Winter Olympics would be pulling from college athletes instead of the usual professional players for their men’s hockey team. Getting to play alongside some of the National Hockey League’s most prized retired players and best in current college hockey was an amazing experience, if not a little intimidating.

After every game, I got texts from people who were watching and saying congratulations and cheering me on. That was really special, knowing that I got to be on such a big stage and represent my community like that.”

— Sean Farrell

For Farrell, the Olympic team would not be all strangers. Olympic men’s hockey Head Coach David Quinn coached Boston University’s hockey team from 2013-2018, a time where Farrell admired him greatly. Upon making the team, Farrell received a phone call from Quinn congratulating him, the beginning of an exciting time being coached by someone he thought very highly of.

During this time in Beijing, Farrell competed as a left wing offensive player, aiding his team to the quarter finals. Playing alongside many teammates coming from the Massachusetts area, he particularly stood out in the U.S. team’s first match against China, in which he helped lead the team to an 8-0 victory with a hat trick. After a few successes, the team ultimately fell to Slovakia on Feb. 15.

“I always dreamed of being an Olympian, and to have that happen at such a young age, it was really crazy,” Farrell said. “The chance to compete at that level and to be around so many amazing athletes made it definitely a time I will never forget.”

Massachusetts has not only been significant in Farrell’s life for connections and excellent teams. He also found great value in the people in his community. While he has felt this support throughout his life, the extensions of people from his hometown and high school in celebration have been especially valuable.

“After every game I get texts from people who were watching and saying congratulations and cheering me on,” Farrell said. “That’s been really special, knowing that I got to be on such a big stage and represent my community like that.”

The audience of this stage have only been happy to be able to witness Farrell’s success, especially those who knew him best. For Corazzini, he is happy that his coaching could make any effect on his player.

“To be able to play even a small part into the great success Sean has had, it is what every educator wants,” Corazzini said. “You want all of your students… to live out their hopes and dreams, and you’re just really happy that a student of yours has been able to live out a dream.”

This story was originally published on Wayland Student Press on March 31, 2022.