She may not be a Canadian pioneer just yet, or even a Hollywood film star, but Rebecca Quinn does have something in common with two notable names in entertainment.
Quinn, who some say might be the most multi-talented athlete in the history of Havergal College, can say she attended the same all-girls private school as the acclaimed Dora Mavor Moore and Margot Kidder, the later best known for her role as Lois Lane in the film Superman.
On the subject of entertainment, Quinn has been providing it – now in the gym and on the field while in past on the ice, slopes and in the pool.
About to bid adios to Havergal, after a banner year of being chosen Athlete of the Year and Sport Prefect, the 17-year old North York resident is off to Durham, North Carolina for the next few years to study at Duke and play soccer.
It’ll be quite different for Quinn, changing from her high school dress code of white blouse with a green and yellow tie, knee socks and forest green blazer, to fitting in at one of the top research universities in the United States.
“I’m excited about (Duke), visited the place, it’s a good balance of academics and athletics,” said Quinn who, remembers as a five year old, asking her parents to put her on a soccer team after watching an older sister play and their father was the coach.
“My parents put me in dance classes: ballet, jazz, hip-hop – and I hated it. Then, it was some house league hockey. But I always had a fondness for soccer. That was No. 1.”
And when Quinn got her chance, there was no looking back.
A midfielder, but capable of playing any position, Quinn was introduced to rep league soccer at the age of eight. Always looking for ways to get better, she was picked to the under-14 provincial squad and made her debut in the Canadian youth program in 2010.
She was on the Canadian team that won a silver medal at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s under-17 championship in Guatemala – a qualifier for the FIFA World Cup in Azerbaijan last fall.
“Azerbaijan – that was something really special for me,” said Quinn, whose team lost to North Korea, 2-1, in a quarter-final nail-biter. “I will never forget the experience. It’s very difficult trying to explain the feeling of playing for your country.”
Quinn was on the mind of many Canadian and U.S. coaches before she restricted her list to three: Duke, Notre Dame and Princeton.
And while education is the primary focus for Quinn, a four-time academic honors student at Havergal and now tinkering with a medical career, she has come a long way since those early days at Blythwood Junior Public School.
“She’s been one of the most talented and diverse players in the school,” praised Donna Howard, Havergal’s athletic director. “If it wasn’t basketball, it was volleyball or track or soccer.”
Quinn was on Havergal’s league championship basketball squad, won the Most Improved Player award on the volleyball team and was this year’s Metro champ in the steeplechase. As for soccer, she didn’t play for the Gators this past year because of a conflict with other team and soccer commitments.
At the age of six, Quinn said she started playing soccer with a club team in North Toronto. A bit of swimming, some hockey and competitive skiing, Quinn determined it was time to concentrate on soccer.
“If I’m good enough, and time will tell, it would be great to play professional soccer,” she said. “For now, it’s Duke. Thinking about the under-20 team for Canada and down the road maybe the dream of making it to the Olympics.”
Duke head coach Robbie Church said he was delighted to have Quinn, a Canadian standout, join his roster.
“She’s very good in the air, she’s good changing your point of attack, she’s a very good technical player, speed of play is very good and she serves a longer ball,” said Church when describing Quinn and her talent.
Quinn will also be the first Canadian to play for the Duke women’s soccer team. Last season, Duke finished with a 15-6-2 record and made the NCAA Final Eight losing to Penn State, 1-0, in the quarter-finals.
Hard to believe, but Quinn does have very good time management skills and makes sure that athletics isn’t the only thing on her mind.
“Family is number one, but I also like to help others and, through the Right To Play organization, went to an Aboriginal Reserve a few weeks ago, near Sudbury, to play soccer and get involved,” she said.
And then, there’s her admiration for baking – as in multi-level cakes.
“Have had some trouble with them because they tend to collapse inwards,” she remarked. “It can get discouraging, but I just keep on working at it.”