Greenwich High’s Lowe retires from prestigious water polo program

Legendary Greenwich High School coach Terry Lowe announced that he is stepping down as head coach of the program he helped start. — John Ferris Robben photo

Legendary Greenwich High School coach Terry Lowe announced that he is stepping down as head coach of the program he helped start. — John Ferris Robben photo

All good things must come to an end.

For Terry Lowe that phrase hits close to home this fall, as the legendary Greenwich High School boys water polo head coach will be retiring from the sport that he helped bring to the school back in 1975.

“There were a lot of factors to my decision,” Lowe said. “Organizationally it’s very difficult. You start in the spring by setting up the schedule and doing all the arrangements that go along with all that travel. During the season you are on the road an awful lot and weekend after weekend you’re away. If you want to have the team playing at a significant level, you have to make those tournaments. Frankly, the older you get, the less you feel like making those 2 a.m. bed checks. It’s a demanding program and it’s been a lot of years, so I think it’s time to have somebody else take over.

Taking over the reigns at Greenwich High in a few short weeks will be Chris Vidale and he’s no stranger to water polo. Vidale played and coached for Iona College and graduated in 2007.

“In Chris, I think we have an excellent coach for the future,” Lowe said. “He has great experience as a player and great knowledge as a coach. He’s already been an assistant coach at Iona and at the YMCA. Chris is dedicated to the sport and I think he will keep the program on the right track.”

GHS water polo coach Terry Lowe looks on during a boys swimming and diving meet last year. Although Lowe is retiring from water polo, he will be back at the pool in December for another season with the boys swimming and diving team. — John Ferris Robben photo

GHS water polo coach Terry Lowe looks on during a boys swimming and diving meet last year. Although Lowe is retiring from water polo, he will be back at the pool in December for another season with the boys swimming and diving team. — John Ferris Robben photo

For Lowe and the water polo program, it’s been a quick journey to the top. What makes the team so impressive is its ability to stay at the top for so long.

Back in the 1975 season, Lowe wasn’t sure about what he was getting himself into. He never played the sport of water polo and never coached it. During that season, Greenwich High went 4-6 overall. A year later the Cardinals finished above .500 with a 8-6 record and in 1977, Greenwich High went 17-3 overall.

However GHS took a step back the next several seasons, finishing 12-9, 10-7, 11-7 and 15-7-1 during the next four seasons.

In 1982, Lowe’s water polo team broke through. They finished 10-8 overall, but captured the school’s first New England championship. From there, the rest is history, as Greenwich High School has been a force. Lowe had undefeated seasons in 1986, 1990, 1995 and 2003. During those four years, Big Red captured both the United States Naval Academy and Easterns/Mid-Atlantic championships.

In the 2010 season, Greenwich High finished 29-0-1 overall and took home the Eastern/Mid-Atlantic championship as well.

The stats about the Cardinals during Lowe’s tenure are simply astounding. In addition to five undefeated seasons, Lowe leaves the program with a staggering record of 844-169-13. Big Red has won the USNA Tournament nine times, captured the Easterns/Mid-Atlantic championship 14 times as the overall winner and four times as the High School Division champion.

Since the Cardinal Tournament began, an event that Greenwich High has hosted every year since 1975, Big Red has taken home the championship every year since 2002. After winning the championship in 2000, GHS won the High School Division in 2001 but the overall winner was Navy Athletic Club. In total, Lowe has come away a champion at Greenwich’s home tourney 20 times and has tied for a championship two more times.

One of the seasons for Lowe’s success was the ability to build feeder programs during his tenure. With the high school program catching up quickly, Lowe was able to help start clubs in the Fairfield County Swim League during the 80’s that had age group programs to help players grow and give them some experience to the sport before going to high school.

In the 90’s, Lowe helped get Greenwich Youth Water Polo off the ground. Now the program has moved to Stamford’s Chelsea Piers and is called Chelsea Piers Water Polo. The club was started to provide more of a complete experience for players that wanted to dedicate more time and energy to the sport.

“Those beginning years were great learning experiences for everybody,” Lowe said. “As the high school program developed, we learned a lot about the sport. We were able to improve and we started winning more. All the buildup with the programs and dedication to the sport helped the high school team have better and more experienced players come into the program.”

While the record Lowe has with the Greenwich High team is impressive to say the least, the former head coach gives the credit to all the kids that he has coached during his time with the Cards.

Since Jim Lewis was named First Team All-American back in 1980, 97 times has Greenwich High School had an All-American on the team.  Of those 97, Jim Lewis (1980-81), Tom Bean (1990-91), Joe Cosentino (2002-03), Richie Hyden (2005-06), Matt Weber (2009-10) and Matthew Fraser (2011-12) are players that were named First Team All-American back-to-back seasons.

Other First Team All-Americans were Mike Meyers (1982), Carl Swan (1985), Edgar Field (1986), Tom Cernier (1988), Simon Botto (1990), Steve Potter (1995), Doug Thompson (1995), Reid Patricelli (1996), Jared Kiefer (1997), Adrian Rawn (1998), Steve Spaeth (2000), Field Garthwaite (2003), Peter Davis (2004), Andrew Trepp (2004), Richie Hyden (2005), Will Smith (2005), Andrew Cosentino (2006), James Case (2007), Christian Mirarchi (2008), Ross Schofield (2008) and Tyler Triscari (2013).

“I had a lot of really good athletes that were hard-working and disciplined,” Lowe said. “They were intelligent athletes that had a great understanding of the game. The wonderful team chemistry that we had on this team, year in and year out, has been amazing. It’s one of the reasons that we have had so much success here.”

Although Lowe takes great pride in seeing his students excel during their high school career, it’s what they do after their time with the Cardinals ends that gives Lowe his biggest joy.

“The proudest thing about this program is the incredible success of our players as they have moved on to the collegiate level,” Lowe said. “At the high school they developed the skills and the discipline to excel collegiately. Almost all our players, even if they didn’t start at Greenwich, end up starting at their collegiate programs at some point in their career. A couple of our players have even played for NCAA national championship teams. I am very proud that a former player like John Loughran leads such a successful program at Loyola Marymont University.”

Although Lowe has retired from water polo, that doesn’t mean he won’t be around Greenwich High School. During the winter season, Lowe still plans on coaching the highly-successful boys swimming and diving program. Entering his 45th season with the Cardinals this winter, Lowe has helped GHS capture the FCIAC championship 43 times and the Cards have been state open champions an amazing 31 times.

While Lowe will still continue his passion of coaching with the boys swimming and diving team, it’s obvious that he will miss his time as water polo head coach.

“Of course I’m going to miss it,” Lowe said. “I’ll miss the players and the chemistry that we’ve had over the years. I will also miss that close friendship that develops when you travel in a 14-passenger van so often with the players. It’s a tight environment where you hear and share a lot of thoughts. Thankfully I’ll see most of the water polo kids on the swim team during the winter season. There’s no doubt that the swimming experience is vastly different than the water polo experience. I’ll miss that competitiveness that a game sport tends to bring out than swimming.”

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