People always tell me I have such a cool job.
I watch games and meet athletes.
What’s not to love?
“Deadline pressure? What are you whining about … it’s not like your job is important. After all, all you do is watch games and meet athletes.”
Maybe they’re right. I have seen a lot of great games and met amazing athletes over the 32 years I have been blessed enough to do this for a living. I’ve interviewed the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Deion Sanders and Bryce Harper, to name a few.
That is cool, but there is one person I’ll never have the opportunity to meet.
His name was Quinn Hoover.
I missed my chance. Fate’s cruel hand snatched that interview away.
And that’s not cool. This is one of those stories I write on deadline for all the right reasons because of the most tragically wrong circumstances.
These are the times I hate. There is no way to justify something so unfair. There are no reasons or referees to blame.
Quinn died on March 18 after an auto accident on National Pike. The 17-year-old wasn’t doing anything wrong or questionable. He was just heading home after spending time with his girlfriend.
That’s when the clock ran out on this young athlete, who was probably more of a role model than most subjects I’ve covered over the years.
I never met Quinn, but I know his dad, Tom, and worked with his mother, Sonja. I didn’t have to know him because it was so easy to get a sense of a kid who accomplished so much in so little time.
Look at the photos which hung in Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home during Quinn’s viewing on Friday, and you saw a face that could easily be lost in a “Where’s Waldo” crowd. His hair had a sweeping bang and he wore glasses that made him look so unassuming.
But remember, Clark Kent wore glasses, too.
In his guise as a mild-mannered Washington County Technical School student, Quinn led a life that was both humble and meaningful.
He spent time as a member of Clear Spring’s indoor and outdoor track teams, using both as a healthy diversion to train for one of his passions in life — soccer.
Quinn played that game passionately from a young age and it was about to help plot his course in life. He had earned an academic scholarship to McDaniel College and planned to play soccer there.
Soccer was oh-so-prevalent during his viewing.
He struck many poses wearing soccer garb in photos.
His parents wore soccer uniforms in his honor, while greeting friends and family.
And in most every instance outlining his life and the joy he had living it, Quinn was wearing some form of soccer jersey.
Yet, there was so much more to Quinn than just soccer.
He was studying biomedical sciences with hopes of becoming a physical therapist or chiropractor.
He was on the verge of becoming an Eagle Scout.
Quinn was spiritual, an ecologist of sorts and an enthusiast for Native American culture.
He got the chance to travel, taking journeys to Europe, especially embracing Ireland. He “showed his Irish” proudly, even donning a leprechaun outfit to show his loyalty.
He lived as full a life as someone could possibly cram into 17 short years. He did more in that time on this earth than many of us could only hope to accomplish.
That’s because Quinn had a certain air about him.
It was a gift.
He had a knack for making people feel welcomed and comfortable. You could see and feel it while standing among the throng that waited to be in his presence one last time to say goodbye.
The unfortunate part in many of these cases is that gift of strength gets taken for granted until someone like Quinn is gone.
And yet, that calming ability is stronger than ever.
Friends and family scrawled fond memories of moments with Quinn along the corridor of the funeral home while they waited for up to three hours to pay their respects.
Quinn’s spirit was so strong, it stopped much of Washington County in its tracks.
People turned out from all walks of his life. There were fellow soccer players and students from his and other schools, coaches and teachers, political figures and regular citizens remembering a kid who was destined for great things.
And in it all, Quinn managed the crowning achievement of his life after his death.
After the accident, Quinn was kept alive long enough to have his organs harvested to help others. Even at his young age, he was adamant about that.
His unselfish act saved the lives of three people, all three times his age.
Like most things Quinn accomplished, his final gesture didn’t go unnoticed. Deep green T-shirts — Quinn’s favorite color — that resembled soccer jerseys were being sold, with the proceeds going to a scholarship fund that will be started to continue his legacy.
The shirts had a Clear Spring emblem front and center with the words “Make a stand. Leave a legacy. Be an organ donor. Be a hero.” The back was decorated with “Hoover” and his number “10.”
So, in a way, Quinn was just like those other athletes I’ve encountered. Fans are wearing shirts with his team, name and number.
Earnhardt was known for saving stock car racing and making it what it is today.
Sanders used his flamboyant style to build a Hall of Fame career while saving the NFL from boredom.
And Harper is charged as being the savior of professional baseball.
But Quinn Hoover has them all beat.
He saved lives and influenced others.
To me, that’s way cooler than any game or athlete I’ve ever covered.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.