September 29, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 53°F


Running in the family

The Bombers’ athletic programs have seen many generations compete with, and against, one another. But for senior distance runner Molly Quinn, cross country and track and field competitions are a family affair.

Senior distance runner Molly Quinn runs on the Ithaca Cross Country Course on Sunday. MICHELLE BOULÉ/THE ITHACAN

Quinn and her father, Jim, have both competed for the Blue and Gold under women’s cross country Head Coach Bill Ware, who has coached both the men’s and women’s team in two separate stints. Despite her father’s history with cross country, Quinn said she was unsure whether she wanted to continue running in college until Ware reached out to her with a hand-written letter.

“He’s always been a great family friend, but I was glad he took time to focus on me individually,” she said. “I knew the program had always been very strong and I felt like they wanted me.”

Ware said he made the letter short and sweet, letting Quinn know when preseason practices began. He wanted to see if Quinn could build on her father’s legacy.

“I knew her father was an outstanding athlete, so I wanted to have her on board to see how she interacted with the different runners and see if she had the same leadership qualities,” he said.

Ware coached Jim Quinn ’86 for his entire career as a Bomber.  He described Jim’s long runs that he did in addition to daily practices, which took him all around campus and down Route 96B. Ware said Jim Quinn was one of the most diligent athletes he coached during his 23-year tenure with the Blue and Gold.

“He would always be out there running in the early mornings, even in the rain, snow and during all the harsh winters,” Ware said.

Jim, who shares the Bombers’ record time for the 10,000-meter run, said neither he nor his wife wanted to persuade Quinn to attend Ithaca College, but always hoped that she would. He said he knew she could follow in his footsteps and enter strong athletic and academic programs.

“I never tried to push her one way or the other, but my wife and I always hoped she would choose Ithaca, and we were really happy when she did,” he said.

Jim was the first runner on the men’s cross country team to individually qualify for the NCAA championships. His induction into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 was one of many times Quinn visited the campus.
Quinn said she was glad to see the athletic program recognize her father for his hard work, but did not fully comprehend the magnitude of his honor until she started competing for the women’s cross country team.

“At the time, I didn’t really understand it,” she said. “But now that I’m running on the same courses and competing in the same championships as he did I can better appreciate it.”

Quinn also has fond memories of seeing her father compete as an alumnus in the Jannette Bonrouhi-Zakaim Memorial Alumni Run every Labor Day weekend. She said she felt odd when she looked at the campus as a prospective student because she had never thought of it as just a school, but also a surreal place full of memories rich with her family’s history.

“I had always seen the buildings before, but I hadn’t really thought of them as anything but where my parents went,” she said.

Much like her father did in the early ’80s, Quinn competes in sports all three seasons as a member of the cross country team as well as the indoor and outdoor track and field teams. Quinn is also taking a similar path as her mother, Jill Quinn ’85, who also pursued a degree in physical therapy.

Jim said he helped Quinn condense long races into manageable distances since cross country is  a sport that requires both mental and physical endurance.

“I always tell her to set goals for herself at certain distance marks so she doesn’t get overwhelmed,” he said.

Jim and Jill have been to all of Quinn’s home meets since she started as a Bomber. Jim said it has been exciting for him and Ware to watch his daughter on her journey of more than eight seasons competing for both teams.

“It’s been a thrill to watch Molly grow and develop in the program,” he said. “I remember dropping her off before her first semester and Coach Ware’s excitement for her was the same as it was for me when I started.”

Ware said the most prominent traits he sees in Quinn that he saw in her father is her intelligence and ability to set a positive example for her teammates.

“She knows what she can do as an individual and teammate, and her actions always speak louder than her words,” he said.

Quinn said having a lifelong connection with Ware and her father have helped her cope with stress that comes from competition and other responsibilities.

“I can deal with pressure a lot better than I could before, and I know both of them will always look out for me,” she said.