Year 5 Lucas Quinn reflects on his SU career
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Two hours before Syracuse took on No. 6 Virginia in the penultimate game of Lucas Quinn’s career, seven of his aunts and 21 cousins drove together in a parking lot west of the Carrier Dome.
Over burgers, hot dogs and beers, family and friends chatted about SU Lacrosse’s upcoming battle with the Cavaliers, Quinn’s unfortunate injuries and what could have been his final season for the fifth-year midfielder. But mostly those who made the two-hour drive from her hometown of Niskayuna, New York, and the handful of others who came from Atlanta, Georgia, were there because they’re so proud of the person Quinn has become.
Each donned a white t-shirt with their name and the number 26 on the back. A smaller group will be back for the season finale on Sunday, but the family wanted to celebrate one last time.
“He’s doing everything in his power to finish strong,” said John Quinn III, his eldest brother.
However, the 2022 season has been “frustrating” for Quinn, he said. The five-star recruit worked his way up from a reserve midfield role in 2018 to a coveted regular this season. After overcoming a right calf strain suffered during the preseason, he scored a hat-trick in his first career start against No. 1 Maryland. But a month later against Johns Hopkins, he was sidelined again with a broken thumb on his dominant hand.
Quinn returned with three games remaining this year, but his role has diminished significantly as his hand continues to heal. He knows that professional lacrosse isn’t the most realistic goal. He knows that next week, after playing his last game, will be the start of a difficult shift since the “lacrosse player” has ruled so much of his life. But those close to him, including his two older brothers who worked the same shift, know he’s more than willing to handle it.
“It’s going to be such a transition. And it’s all going to come to an end,” Quinn said ahead of the Virginia game.
For Quinn, the youngest of three brothers, playing lacrosse always seemed logical. He started around age 5, running around to “keep up” with John (seven years older), Evan Quinn (three and a half years older) and their friends.
Quinn always had a stick growing up, according to his high school teammates and neighbors Dylan Pantalone, Jon Pfohl, and James Sexton. The trio knew by third grade that Quinn was good enough to eventually become a five-star recruit. He became the record holder for most points in Niskayuna High School history (342 points), said his father, John Quinn Jr.
In his first collegiate game, Quinn scored twice against Binghamton. In his sophomore season, he broke his little finger and also tore his groin – injuries that led to limited minutes in 2019. For the past three years, Quinn has played a consistent role in second-line midfield, assisting front-line All-Americans Tucker Dordevic, Brendan Curry and Jamie Trimboli.
That season, head coach Gary Gait never had a conversation with Quinn where he said he would be the new starter, John said, but it seemed natural. He had worked hard enough to earn minutes in his first four seasons at SU and was finally ready to take on that starting role.
“That was his goal. He wanted to be the guy,” John said.
Quinn returned from his calf injury and electrified Syracuse with a hat-trick in the second quarter against No. 1 Maryland, a sequence in which he proved what he was capable of, John said. Ellen Quinn, his mother, said she didn’t even think Quinn would play that day because he wasn’t fully conditioned. But his family wasn’t surprised by his performance – they always knew he was that good.
Then he broke his thumb. Syracuse plummeted well below .500 and the end of Quinn’s career threatened.
“It’s hard enough when you graduate from college and leave your team, but when you leave with the way this season ends and an injury,” Ellen said, “it’s a bust.”
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Still, Quinn’s glass-half-full mentality means he has weathered a difficult season, his family said. He’s part of what Gait has repeatedly called the “foundation” for the future, working so closely with young midfielders like Jackson Birtwistle, Matteo Corsi and Tyler Cordes. From the sidelines during his injury, Quinn continued to coach and support his teammates, Gait said.
“It’s easy to put yourself down, but that’s not Lucas’ type,” Evan said.
Quinn knows his career will most likely come to an abrupt end after the Notre Dame game. He’s trying to “soak up the remaining moments” with his teammates and best friends, John said.
It’s a conversation both brothers – who played at the University of Hartford but didn’t turn pro – had with Quinn. John said it was a “shock” to find out a new routine that differs from lacrosse. As with any transition, it’s about focusing motivation and energy on something new, his brothers said.
“When you grow up, your identity is, ‘I’m a lacrosse player, that’s me.’ But when that’s over and you’re no longer fit for Syracuse Lacrosse, it definitely takes a while to figure out your new situation, new groove and new identity,” John said.
However, both know that Quinn will handle this transition well. Quinn said he will continue to help with Niskayuna’s high school and club programs. Niskayuna kids consider the Quinn brothers “legendary” in the lacrosse world, Ellen said.
He will continue to play casual lacrosse this summer and will work with Ryan Powell’s Rhino Lacrosse. In addition, he plans to ski and golf in his free time and work in commercial real estate in Albany, New York.
“Looking back, there’s obviously so much more to life (than lacrosse),” Quinn said.
In the parking lot in front of the Dome, Quinn’s parents talk about how he always plays well against Virginia. He had two goals in Syracuse’s first upset against UVA last year and then two goals and an assist in the second upset. The Cavaliers went on to win the national championship.
That year he had two more goals and an assist in February. They knew he would be on the field in a few hours – against Virginia. This time Quinn was held in minutes without a point or a shot because his hand is still healing. And in a week it will probably be finished for good.
“It’s a huge transition, but it’s all good. That’s life,” Ellen said. “You keep going as you get older, that’s exactly what he does.”
Published April 24, 2022 at 10:24 p.m
Contact Roshan: [email protected] | @Roshan_f16