Up Close and Personal with Kenny Flanagan
Oct. 5, 2001
Kenny Flanagan is a sophomore on this year's men's water polo squad. The utility player is playing in his own backyard, a product of San Jose's Leland High School. A tenacious defender, he currently leads the Broncos with 17 steals.
As a freshman last season, Flanagan saw limited action until later in the year, and finished the season as the team's best percentage shooter at .600 on 18 goals. A tremendous ball handler, he is one of six players to see action in every contest in 2001 and currently ranks third on the team with seven goals.
Flanagan recently took some time to share his thoughts on a variety of questions, including some of his teammates' musical talents.
Q: How did you get started playing water polo?
A: My brother played. So it was an 'older sibling' thing. I wanted to do what he did. He's two years older than me and played at Bellarmine Prep. I saw him play and thought it was cool. It was between wrestling and water polo, but they were in different seasons, so it wasn't that big a deal. I started playing water polo and got stuck on it.
Q: Why did you choose to come to Santa Clara?
A: My dad and my sister both went here, so I had known about it. My dad knew I'd like it. I've turned out to love it. I had wanted to go to a private school, but was looking for something farther away. But after weighing the advantages and disadvantages, this was perfect. I was close to my family, so I could go home whenever I wanted to. It worked out. I had everything I wanted and I could play water polo.
Q: Did you play other sports growing up?
A: My dad played here. He was on the 1962 baseball team that went to the College World Series. So he's a big-time athlete. He just let us do whatever we wanted. So we tried karate, tennis volleyball, basketball, everything really. They we just stuck with what we wanted. He never pointed us in a direction and if he had, we would have been in baseball, but all of us sucked at it. I bet that was a downer for him.
Q: Why did you stick with water polo?
A: Right off that bat, I caught up to everybody. I wasn't a swimmer, but I was able to play to play with them. It was the ball-handling skills that I had that kept me in there. All I had to do was develop my swimming.
Q: Did any of the other sports help you at all in water polo?
A: Basketball. Just the hand-eye coordination. That's what I had over everywhere else.
Q: Tell me about your family.
A: I have two brothers and two sisters. As the youngest, I got beat up all the time. One of my brothers is a collegiate wrestler, so he just whoops on me all the time. It just makes me stronger.
Q: What did you think about your first collegiate season last year?
A: It was awesome. We were a team. We weren't that good, but it was cool because of the guys. I got a really good feel for Santa Clara just from those guys. They were awesome. I had a good time.
Q: Now this year, you guys started off 5-2, and are now 5-5 on the season.
A: We started off so good. It's a great team. Jay and Doc (O'Connell) are our backbone, so we feed off of them. And we have really good goalies. We look good. We could play well. Last week, the past came back to haunt us, but I think we'll pull out of it. We have two big games this weekend and that will say a lot about us. I think we're moving on.
Q: What's it like playing at the Leavey Pool?
A: It's awesome. People come out and cheer. It's so much fun playing in front of people that you know. We're telling everybody to come out tomorrow. It's hard to play at 11 a.m. though. You think that it's a perfect time, but on a Saturday in college, everybody's still asleep. So we might not have as many people as we would think out there, which would be a bummer, but some close friends and family regularly come, so that's cool.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about the position you play.
A: Our main guy is Jay, and he's in the hole. We try to throw the ball in to him. He's our point guard basically. But every other spot in the pool is basically utility. You can't just say you're defense because you have to play offense too. So I consider myself a utility player. When Jay's not in the set, we'll throw someone else in there and eventually, you play all the positions. I'm a little bit more aggressive on defense, I just really like it. I take pride in not having someone score on me, so I just go after it. I also like to score, but I'm more of a passer on offense.
Q: Do you have any unknown talents you'd like to share, like playing an instrument?
A: Oh, no, I wish. That would be cool. Actually my roommate who's on the team, Logan Gee, is a musician. He actually taught me a rift yesterday. He has the hidden talents on our team. He'll sing with his guitar and everything. I have him as a roommate, so I'm hoping a little of his talents will rub off.
Q: Has he ever performed for the team?
A: No, he keeps to himself. He'll jam with his buddies. Doc's also into music. He sings with a band and he plays. I think they talk about it. Doc played once at his house and I missed it. I was late to the party. But he said they're going to play again this year.
Q: Talk about what it's like having a teammate as a roommate?
A: It's really cool. He wakes me up. Without him, I wouldn't get to practice. It's so tough to get up in the morning for a 6 a.m. practice. He's like the first one up. I just stay in bed because I know he's not going to leave without me. I only get up when he's like, 'Alright, it's time to go.'
Q: What are you majoring in?
A: I'm in the business school. I'm looking at accounting or economics, something like that. It sounds boring, but I kind of enjoy econ. And accounting, I just want to learn something and come out with a skill. That's a pretty good skill, I think.
Q: Where's your favorite place on campus to just hang out?
A: It's over by the mission, there's a little bench there.
Q: What did you do over the summer?
A: I played a lot of water polo, then went to St. Louis and then right after that, I went to visit my family in the Dominican Republic. We were minus one-my brother stayed home to party-so there was five of us, and we met my sister, her husband and their two kids in the Dominican. It was fun. We were there three-and-a-half weeks. They have a new baby, so we just hung out with them. We also visited a few resorts... it's a lot cheaper down there, so we just lived it up. It was really cool.
Q: Whom do you admire?
A: I really look up to both my parents. My mom and dad are such opposites. I have a lot of my mom in me. She's a real go-getter. She's a tiger. And then my dad's real laid back. He listens to everybody and then decides. I want to be a balance of those two. I'm finding a little bit more of my mom in me right now.
Q: Are they able to come out to your matches?
A: Oh, they come out to all of them. They even came to San Diego. They haven't missed a game. It's cool. It's nice to seem them. They've been with me since high school games. My mom cheers. She makes friends with other parents and they cheer like crazy. Just having a fan on the road is cool.
Q: What are you looking forward to in the next couple of years?
A: I want to learn a new skill. But I also want to have a good time. And I'm having a great time now.