AAU Junior Olympics: Quinn family bonds through track and field

By DOUG GORMAN

dgorman@newnan.com

When Scott and Karen Quinn were looking for a sport to put their four children into during the spring and summer, all it took was a simple Google search last year to find the right fit.

Now, the Quinn children, all budding track and field athletes with Newnan’s Dare to Dream AAU team, are spending the last few weeks of summer vacation preparing for a trip to Texas to compete in the Junior Olympics later this month.

Sons Ryan, 12, Josiah, 9, and Samuel, 7, are determined to bring home track and field medals.

 
 Don’t count out sister Abigail someday. The only thing keeping the youngest member of the racing family from   also taking to the podium this time is her age.

At just 4-years-old, she can’t compete in the national event this year, but she is already making a name for herself with the Dare to Dream club despite her young age.

Scott Quinn is just glad his children have picked up the sport so quickly.

“I was an athlete in high school, my wife was an athlete, so we started them early on,” he said.

Track and field goes right along with the family’s love of sports.

The boys have all played football with the Sharpsburg Stallions and wrestled with the Coweta Cobras. Abigail wants to start cheerleading next year as she expands her athletic resume.

“The boys were always wrestling around the house, so I told them they could join a wrestling team and wrestle other people,” Scott said.

Participation in football and wrestling took care of the fall and winter seasons, but there was a void when it came to what to do with their time in the spring and summer.

Track and field goes right along with Scott’s athletic past.

“I was a thrower in high school,” said Scott, who competed in track and field before going off to the Naval Academy.

Now, he passes his expertise in the shot put, discus and javelin on to members of the Dare to Dream team as one of the squad’s assistant coaches, specializing in the throwing events.

“I started working with just a couple of throwers and they had natural ability, they just didn’t have the right technique,” he said. “Now you can see them all getting better.”

Although they excel in several events, Ryan and Josiah, are making a name for themselves in one of the sport’s most unique events, racing walking.

“It is an Olympic event,” Scott said. “A lot of athletes don’t get into it until later. There are a lot of kids who aren’t pre-disposed or naturally fast runners, so it’s a great sport for them because it’s an event that they can still compete in.”

Ryan competes in the 3,000 race walk, while Josiah competes in the 1,500 race walk. Both have set national records in the event.

There’s a special technique to racing walking.

“Your heel and toe have to always be in contact,” Scott said.

Once Ryan showed he could excel in the event, Josiah wanted to get into the act too.

“They are really competitive,” Scott said. ““It’s all about who is fastest. I am always having to referee. It keeps me busy.”

Ryan will compete in the race walk and the javelin at the Junior Olympics. He also throws the discus.

He knows he could have a really bright future in racing walking.

“I had to work at becoming good in the race walk, but my coach put me into it because I was not the fastest guy out there, and I think his wife used to do it, but now I really enjoy it, and I can really do it.”

Josiah also excels in the triathlon (shot put, high jump and the 200 meters), and the shot put.

“My favorite part of track is just coming out here and competing and seeing my friends,” Josiah said.

He also knows race walking could be the key to earning many gold medals at the Junior Olympics as he continues to get better.

Samuel heads to the Junior Olympics after finishing first recently in the javelin throw in Orlando. Like his older brothers, he too has set national records along the way.

He also competes in the triathlon, the 800 and the 1,500.

“It’s just cool to be able to come out here,” Samuel said. “I really like throwing the javelin because I like throwing it really far, and I also broke the national record.”

Little sister sort of came to track and field by accident.

“We didn’t think Abigail was old enough last year, but she made friends with one of the older runners on the team and then she started running 800 meters without stopping and we were all like wow,” he said. “We got her started this year, and she had a blast.”

She competes in the triathlon, the 200 meters and the shot put.

“I really love track and field and beating people,” Abigail said.

Scott hopes his children are in track and field for the long haul.

“In terms of staying in condition and staying in shape, it is hard to beat track and field,” he said.

He also thinks it could pay dividends down the road.

“It might just pay their way to college someday,” he said.

The three boys join a large contingent of athletes from Coweta heading to the AAU Junior Olympic Games starting next Friday in Humble, Texas.

Also heading to the national event are Northgate High juniors Hailey Gollnick and Kemoy Anderson, East Coweta freshman Courtlen Burke and Heritage School standout Chase Parker.