Ron Quinn loves soccer. His passion for the sport—and his belief in its self-esteem building qualities—is the unifying force that ties together his work in the University’s Department of Sports Studies with his efforts on behalf of such organizations as the English Football Association, U.S. Youth Soccer and the Urban Soccer Collaborative.
Quinn nurtured his passion as a high school soccer coach in Pennsylvania, then saw it blossom during his 12-year tenure as head coach of Xavier’s women’s soccer team. Since trading his coaching whistle for full-time responsibilities as an associate professor in 2004, Quinn has been “freed up to develop new initiatives.”
One of Quinn’s initiatives is here at Xavier, where he is in the preliminary stages of designing the Integrated Coaching and Sport Education program, which extends Ignatian pedagogy within the Department of Sports Studies’ curriculum. This same spirit permeates his more altruistic, off-campus work as well.
These off-campus efforts have grown through an expanding web of soccer relationships. Quinn’s involvement with the Amal Sudan Sports Academy in the Sudan is an excellent example. It began with Quinn ‘s work as an online tutor for the English Football Association, where he manages discussion boards and posts enriching materials for the courses.
“From my tutoring, I entered this dialogue with this one individual, Amin Abdalla, director at Academy,” Quinn says. “He told me about their academy, and that they were very poor. I had soccer gear at home that I wasn’t using, like former youth-sized Xavier Soccer Camp t-shirts, so I sent a box of stuff over there, as well as an activity book I wrote.”
Although Quinn hopes to carry the online dialogue and friendship with the academy to on-site collaboration, he realizes that, given the volatile situation in the Sudan, such projected global efforts will have to be put on pause.
“I give them time and advice for what they should be doing for their athletes,” he says. “At this point, my role is like that of an advisor.”
These relationships build on one another: Quinn’s friendship with Abdalla has put him in contact with administrators from a similar sports academy in Zambia. Meanwhile, at home, Quinn focuses intently on the efforts of U.S. Youth Soccer and the Urban Soccer Collaborative to provide sports as an outlet for adolescents and youth coaches in underserved urban or rural areas and school districts.
“We’re trying to tap into that segment of adolescents to become role models for younger kids,” Quinn says of the collaborative, which not only offers sports and sports education in underserved communities, but also cultivates effective mentors within those communities through conferences and workshops.
“Last year, through the Starfinder Foundation in Philadelphia, we ran a leadership academy for 15 to 17 year-olds, all from urban areas, at Drexel University,” Quinn recalls. “We put them through leadership training with sessions dealing with resisting peer pressure, discussions dealing with diversity, and someone from Wachovia Bank came and talked to them about personal finance. I put them through a modified youth coaching education course, and they also attended a referee’s course, so that way, maybe on the weekends, they could officiate games to make extra money, as opposed to selling drugs.”
Whether in Cincinnati, Philadelphia or the Sudan, for Quinn it all ultimately comes down to the kids who play the game. One look at the photos filling his office is all it takes to know that Quinn’s former players hold a special place in his heart.
“I miss coaching a great deal, but I’m still in contact with about 90 percent of my former players,” he says. “I’ve been to at least 10 or 11 weddings in the past three or four years, and I sang at four of them. So I’ve moved from a soccer coach to a wedding singer. The fact that I can contribute toward such a special day for them is really enjoyable.”