Quinn Brings Bulldog Mentality to Lacrosse and Life
The investment required to thrive in college lacrosse is significant. Practice, class, homework and other commitments add up in a hurry. Doing that at an Ivy League school only adds to the degree of difficulty.
But toss in a summer at the London School of Economics, another as an investment bank intern and yet another as an intern for a U.S. senator, and suddenly it's as sparkly a resume as a college senior could possess. It would also demand an incredible degree of juggling, right?
"To me it doesn't," Yale senior defenseman Michael Quinn said. "In hindsight, standing here now it seems like a lot. When I'm in the thick of it, it doesn't seem like I'm doing anything different. Going to Chaminade [High in New York], the post-grad year and being a student in the Ivy League, there's always something you're doing."
Quinn is not slowing down anytime soon, remaining busy on every front imaginable. Quinn already has a job lined up at Barclays upon graduation, but the real world can wait a few more months. Yale, which ascended to No. 4 this week in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Top 20 after defeating Maryland, is on the verge of a breakthrough for its first Memorial Day weekend trip since 1990, and its captain is a possible first-team All-American who nearly didn't land in New Haven.
Despite some initial attention in the recruiting process, Division I coaches largely overlooked Quinn. His body (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) didn't fill out until late in his high school career, and his hopes of using lacrosse as a vehicle to secure educational opportunities certain to open doors sputtered.
Among those who passed on the Long Island native was Yale coach Andy Shay.
"We had already given our spots away, and those three guys were great players and teammates of his for three years," Shay said. "But I think they would agree Michael is an exceptional defenseman and the sort of player we don't get all that much."
Eventually, Quinn proposed a postgraduate year, and Shay was the first coach to take him up on the offer. And while a stopover at the Hotchkiss School meant delaying the start to his college career, it was also the path necessary to arrive at Yale. Among his teammates at the Connecticut prep school was attackman Matt Kavanagh, now a Tewaaraton finalist at Notre Dame.
"It was the price I had to pay," Quinn said. "I actually didn't think much of it. There were a bunch of kids PG-ing who were like, 'Screw this,' and they saw it as a burden. I saw it as a huge opportunity to play with guys like Matt Kavanagh and to mentally and physically hone my game so that when I did step on campus I could contribute as much as possible to the team."
Quinn ultimately did, playing long-stick midfield as a freshman before starting at close defense the last two years. But there was always more to do, and major reminders in his life of the value of self-discipline and commitment.
Yale's Michael Quinn, pictured here defending Maryland's Matt Rambo in an NCAA tournament first-round game last spring, limited Rambo to 1-for-8 shooting in the Bulldogs' win Saturday. (John Strohsacker)
Quinn draws inspiration from his brother, Anthony, an Army Ranger who inspires him to constantly hold himself to a higher standard and taught him to focus on the task at hand. Their father owned a construction company. Growing up Quinn had an industrious effect on the boys.
"We were always helping around the house," Quinn said. "He was up a 5 in the morning. We never took vacations or traveled. You could never lie on the beach during the summer. If I'm sitting around even just playing lacrosse, which I love, but having X amount of hours free, I feel like I'm not being productive."
That explains the summer in London after Quinn's freshman year, which offered him an early reminder of the doors Yale could open. He landed the investment bank internship the next year through a connection from his club coach. And the time Quinn spent in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Long Island office provided experience in the public sector for the political science major.
But lacrosse was an important element, too. Shay saw a little more of everything — maturity, leadership, ability — as Quinn progressed through his career. All along, the self-described late bloomer continued working, continued to improve.
"He knows he's lucky," Anthony Quinn said. "At the same time, he knows he's worked his butt off for it."
Michael Quinn delves deeper into his senior year already with two trips to the NCAA tournament. During the Ivy League tournament last year, he played through a back injury that left him without feeling in part of his leg.
"Our last few games, my trainer would come up to me afterward and say, 'I cannot believe that he is out there playing right now,'" Shay said. "With the amount of pain he was in, he never said a word. He went about his business. When you look at that and the level he played at, that's the biggest thing."
Back surgery ultimately sidelined Quinn for fall ball. A lead-by-example type, he chose to view it as a chance to become a more vocal presence with his teammates. It's just one more role.
Quinn's role last Saturday was to shut down Maryland's Matt Rambo. He limited the Terps' star attackman to 1-for-8 shooting and led the Yale defense as it held Maryland scoreless for nearly 28 minutes during a definitive six-goal stretch in the Bulldogs' 8-5 victory.
Quinn remembers all too well the delayed start to his college career, and on occasion will jokingly give Shay some flak for it. But it also fuels him when he steps on the field against players who were more heralded recruits.
He's always working toward something.
"As I get older, there's more things that get put on your plate," Quinn said. "You assume more leadership and you have to start to think about jobs and internships. It doesn't stick out in my mind as a conscious choice. It's just something I've been hard-wired to do."
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