Senior forward Erin Quinn has never settled for just meeting expectations during her time on Penn women’s field hockey.
Instead, she presses beyond, growing from a promising talent to an indispensable attacking force on the team by her junior year.
Almost halfway through her final year at Penn, Quinn is pleased with her growth as a player and student, and how her love for the sport has persisted just the same.
Quinn grew up in New Jersey in a family of athletes. Her mother played field hockey at American University and her father played baseball in college. With an older sister who went on to play field hockey at Richmond, and an equally competitive brother, Quinn found herself in an environment that encouraged her to explore athletics from an early age.
Quinn tried her hand at track, soccer, and basketball all before middle school. But she realized early on that field hockey would become her greatest passion.
Her sister began playing before her, but due to age requirements, Quinn had to wait until third grade to play. Until then, she nurtured her hopes in admiration of her older sister.
“I’d always go to their practices and I couldn’t wait to play,” Quinn said. “You know when you’re little, you want to be just like your big sister.”
Quinn remained patient and finally picked up the stick in third grade, following the footsteps of both her mother and sister.
She went on to high school at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School and lettered in both field hockey and lacrosse all four years. During her senior year, she captained the team and was selected to the first team all-state. Quinn chose to pursue field hockey in college, her choice coming down to where her talents pointed clearer.
“I just trained more competitively with field hockey,” Quinn said, “I enjoyed playing lacrosse but I feel like I excelled the most in field hockey out of the other sports.”
Coming into Penn, hopes on Quinn were high. But she soon realized the challenge of leaving behind the role of senior captain of her high school team and adapting as a rookie on the Penn women’s team.
“It was definitely a tough transition,” Quinn said. “Once you get to the Division I level, you’re playing with and against the best of the best; it’s just like all the people who are the superstars of their high school team.”
But it didn’t take long for Quinn to prove her place on the roster and find her rhythm with the faster collegiate pace. She appeared in all 17 games in her freshman season, starting two. Quinn found consistency in the routine of daily practices, and depended on valuable guidance within her teammates.
“Going to practice every day, playing at the high level, and all the other girls on the team helped me adjust,” Quinn said.
Last season was her breakthrough. Quinn's pair of goals against Columbia, and her goal that brought the Quakers level in their win against Drexel, all proved evidence of her dedication. Quinn started in 16 of 17 games and tied for second on the team in goals scored.
Yet Quinn's favorite memory in field hockey is not a solo effort, but rather one victorious moment as a team — last season’s 5-2 win against Cornell, at the time ranked in the top 10 of the NCAA.
“We had a rough start to our season, we had a losing record, and Cornell started off really well last year,” Quinn said. “It helped turn around our season around a bit, and it was just really exciting to be a part of.”
Off the turf, Quinn’s academic journey was similar to her beginnings in athletics — exploring a variety of subjects she found interesting before committing to a major in communications.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do, to be honest,” Quinn said. “What was good about going into the School of Arts and Sciences [was that] it’s very broad.”
While the finale to her field hockey career at Penn was far from traditional, Quinn holds close the value of her experience at Penn.
“I just feel so lucky that I was able to go to such a great school and be part of such an amazing team, and it’s an opportunity that I don’t think I would have ever been able to have without field hockey,” Quinn said. “I’m forever grateful for that and for all the people that have made my time here so special.”
Quinn has been known for her focus and dedication since her beginnings with field hockey, and these current unfamiliar circumstances will not be the hurdle to throw her askew.