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Kelly Quinn is a soccer standout with a football pedigree

By Steve Kirkland, Athletics Media Relations

It was an innocuous comment from a coach to a reporter the type of remark that normally wouldn’t warrant further attention. But when Virginia women’s soccer head coach Steve Swanson uttered the following words, the writer listening was floored.

“I think Kelly Quinn is the best athlete in her family,” Swanson said.

For most starters at the Division I level of any collegiate sport, this wouldn’t be a surprise. But most don’t have a brother and brother-in-law that were both first round NFL draft picks like Quinn does.

Quinn’s older brother, Brady, was an All-American quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist at Notre Dame before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2007. Her older sister, Laura, is married to Green Bay Packers’ linebacker A.J. Hawk. She has had uncles and cousins play college football. Yet it is the Cavaliers’ senior midfielder that Swanson feels is the best of the bunch.

“Well, I might be a little biased,” Swanson admitted. “She is a very special athlete and watching her improvement as a soccer player over the past four years has been enjoyable. A lot of young players depend on their athleticism, especially ones who are as gifted as Kelly. She has done a great job of improving her skills, understanding the game, and this season, becoming a real leader on our team. All the while she has been willing to serve many different roles on the field for us.”

During her career Quinn has gone wherever her team has needed her. She has played in the midfield and at forward, in the center and on the flanks. At the same time she constantly has been one of the top offensive threats for the Cavaliers. She scored five goals in her rookie campaign, three in an injury-shortened sophomore season and ranked second on the team with seven goals last year. Through the first 10 games of the 2008 season, she ranks second on the squad with four goals.

For Quinn, those statistics are not as important as the victories for her team. That desire comes from the competitiveness of growing up in the Quinn family, where sports were a fixture of everyday life.

“It was really competitive and we were always going after each other in some type of sport,” said Quinn of her childhood in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Dublin. “My family all played football, but I couldn’t, except for being my brother’s receiver in the backyard. I learned a lot from growing up in that environment.”

Although they compete in different sports, Quinn and her brother share a bond as athletes. They are each other’s biggest fans and are in constant contact, lending support and encouragement to one another. It is a relationship that has existed between the two for years.

“Even though the sports are different, it helps to have someone to talk to about it,” Quinn said. “Even in high school, Brady was my best friend and I would tag along with him and his friends to work out and play. To have someone who is two years older than me set such a good example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish was great to have. Even now, we call each other or send text messages on game days. I try to watch him play on TV as much as I can and he is always on our website to read about our team.”

As difficult as it has been for the Quinn siblings to watch each other compete while in-season with their own teams, it has been equally hard for their parents. Robin and Ty Quinn have logged thousands of miles traveling around the country to attend their children’s games.

“They do their best to be there to support both of us,” Quinn said. “When Brady was at Notre Dame, he was closer to home than me. Now that he is in Cleveland, he is still closer. So he topped me twice. When it was his senior year, that was the priority for my parents and now my senior year is their priority. They have tried to make it equal as much as they can, but we know they are always supporting us whether they are there in person or not.”

Quinn’s goal for her senior season is to help lead Virginia to an ACC and NCAA Championship. The finals of both those tournaments are on Sundays, a day that is dominated by the NFL in the sports world during the fall. The Quinns could once again have their attention split with games in two cities at once. Not a bad problem for family to have.

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