Fenwick High School is proud to announce a matching challenge to establish the Mr. Dan O’Brien Endowed Scholarship Fund. Aquatics alum Neal Armstrong ’63 presented a $50,000 matching challenge in honor of the longtime swim coach’s legacy of excellence in Friar Aquatics.
Read Armstrong’s reflections on the legacy of Mr. O’Brien, who spent more than five decades at Fenwick:
There can be no other person in Fenwick’s history that exemplifies the dedication and loyalty exhibited by Mr. O’Brien.
Most are aware of his coaching prowess, but often overlooked was his influence encouraging individuals’ excellence both on the podium as well as educational pursuits. He was there for all of us as we pursued further education, competition, summer jobs and careers. Thanks to his help and guidance, he was ultimately responsible for many of us financing our education. It is only appropriate that we should help pay forward in honor of his legacy.
From the first day I entered Fenwick, I remember an atmosphere of participation in success. We wanted to be part of that success, and jumped at the opportunities that were presented to us. Mr. O’Brien scoured the gym classes to find potential members for his teams. I remember a kid that didn’t make the cut, but was still welcomed after he expressed a desire to be a part of his program. He toiled along with the other selected potential members in that outside lane, while the experienced competitors worked in the remainder of the pool. I remember Mr. O’Brien spending the time coaching each of the “outside lane” guys individually to bring out any potential.
After learning the trade, we were eventually elevated to the regular workouts to compete along with the experienced team members. I remember being proud and thankful of the efforts when this kid was awarded a conference gold medal, All-American recognition and a college scholarship.
Mr. O’Brien never forgot us. Twenty-five years later at my father’s wake, there was Mr. O’Brien, honoring our father and giving solace to our family.
I always have a little sly smile when I hear him referred to as the Dobber or even coach. He was Mr. O’Brien. Yes, we even referred to him as the Dobber, but he earned our respect and made sure he never heard us say anything but “Mr.”