LYNNFIELD — If it seems as if there aren’t enough hours in the day for Daniel McSweeney to do all the things he tries to cram into it, then it’s quite possible there are not.
McSweeney, a Lynnfield High senior bound for Penn State in the fall, has a varied set of interests that would raise the eyebrow of anyone who studies high-school kids. He played ice hockey at the school for four years. Additionally, he took up guitar during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has played outside the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
And for good measure, McSweeney founded and still runs the Ultimate Frisbee Club at Lynnfield High. He feels very strongly that the activity should be incorporated into a varsity sport.
Perhaps most importantly, McSweeney carries a 4-plus GPA into graduation next month, having taken mostly Advanced Placement courses; is in the National Honor Society; and plans to major in geology at Penn State.
He’s been playing hockey forever, it would seem.
“Ever since I could walk,” he said. “My dad was a goalie, but in the beginning, I played a lot of different positions. By the fifth grade, though, I switched and I loved it. I’m really competitive, and once I get out there, I want to win.”
This past winter, the Pioneers went 18-1-1 and won two games in the Division 3 state tournament with McSweeney between the pipes. He’s always been a fan, and one of his earliest memories was the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
“I was a big fan of (Patrice) Bergeron and (Brad) Marchand, and Zdeno Chara — guys from that team,” he said.
As well as being a Cape Ann League All-Star, McSweeney won the Character Award for Mental Toughness this past winter for his discipline, for the accomplishment of going from a three-year JV goalie to an All-Star varsity starter, and for being the “calmest goalie they’ve ever had,” he said.
While he was making a name for himself in the net, he was also doing the same in music. During the COVID lockdown in 2020, he taught himself how to play guitar, and has taken it and run. He owns both Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster electric guitars, has performed at school assemblies, and soloed during school concerts. He also won the Musicianship Award for his guitar ensemble class his junior year.
His tastes are pretty eclectic. He can discuss the likes of metalist Synyster Gates from the group Avenged Sevenfold, as well as Jimmy Page and the late Ric Ocasek from the Cars (“he’s a fun one to play”).
He can be creative too.
“I once played at a Christmas concert and started off playing ‘Carol of the Bells,’ and ended up segueing into ‘Kashmir’ by Zeppelin,” he said.
Then there’s Ultimate Frisbee. Earlier in his high-school career, McSweeney played football and ran track. But then the frisbee bug bit. He inquired about starting a club, read up on the rules, and now he’s hooked.
“It’s kind of like hockey and football,” he said. “There are two teams, and you throw the frisbee down the field to one of your guys to hopefully score. If the other team knocks it down, they get to throw it.”
“It’s an awful lot of running,” he added. “You’re going back and forth, and you’re not supposed to have contact, but if you’re throwing that thing down the field, then it’s 50-50 there’s going to be contact.”
Academically, studies were a work in progress for McSweeney, but ended superlatively.
“Marks have steadily gotten better,” he said. “As a freshman, I was under 4 (GPA). Now, I’m about 4.3, and taking a lot of AP classes.”
His favorite subjects are literature, chemistry, and history.
“I hate math with a passion, so my marks have always been lower there,” he mentioned.
He has a special love of ancient and European history.
“I’ve always found it interesting knowing what happened all those years ago, and seeing how those events affect us now,” he said.
His plan at Penn State is to major in geology, with the possibility of changing if it doesn’t work out.
“I figured it would be a pretty good place to start,” he said. “I love being outdoors and looking at nature.”