Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito picks Youth of the Year
“The meaning of the shirts I’d see Coach wear night in and night out really started to impact the way I thought. “Earned, Not Given” became my personal mantra... said Quinn O’Donnell who was selected as Youth of the Year at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.
When Quinn O’Donnell, 15, started playing for the Bulldogs basketball team at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito several years ago, she was the inexperienced player in a highly competitive group of seasoned athletes working to keep up their reputation of long periods without defeat.
Undaunted, Quinn immersed herself into the game in order to catch up.
“I knew they were all practicing and playing games while I wasn’t, so I started practicing, even more, every day in the driveway. Even more than just practice, I started watching every YouTube video I could find on ball-handling, shooting, and I worked on footwork and endurance,” Quinn said in her essay for the club’s Youth of the Year award.
She eventually became a team leader for the Bulldogs, and made the varsity basketball team at San Dieguito Academy at the end of her freshman year.
Quinn, A Solana Beach resident, was picked as the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s 2020 Youth of the Year. The award
recognizes “teens who have already begun to leave their mark on the world.” Nominees are selected based on their persistence, leadership, hard work and other characteristics “that indicate a budding contribution to society.” Other nominees included John Aste, Maribel Hernandez, Sean Joyce, Riley Riggs, Drew Schafer and Jessie Snider, all exemplary youths.
Quinn was recognized for her determination to work hard to reach her goals despite setbacks.
For several seasons after Bulldogs tryouts, Quinn ended up on the “B team.” Quinn showed up for whatever team she made but always asked the coaching staff if she could practice with the very elite level team that she didn’t make.
Quinn immersed herself in training. The further the goal seemed to get from her, the harder she worked to reach it. Just before the initial COVID shutdown last spring, Quinn made the elite teams she set out to join.
“I nominated Quinn because she has courage, and she’s committed,” said Quinn’s Bulldogs coach, Courtney Clements.
“Seeing Quinn face adversity and show courage each and every day to come back around players that were more experienced was phenomenal to me, and to think about where she started and where she is now, I think she embodies those three words you think of for Youth of the Year which is to lead, inspire and succeed,” said Clements, who played for the WNBA and is an advocate for female athletes.
Quinn’s family sees her discipline and commitment each day.
“She sets her alarm every day for 6:30 and works out in the garage. Sometimes it is physical therapy moves, sometimes basketball training, sometimes it’s just Yoga,” said her mother, Adria O’Donnell.
She goes to Zoom classes and gets up a few hundred shots at lunch, before going back to classes and homework.
“Pretty much from the second I wake up to the second I go to bed I am go, go, go. Usually I’ll make breakfast for the family and then log onto Zoom. At our lunch break, I do my second workout of the day and then shower and go back to class. After school, I’ll finish up my homework and lace up the shoes again. It probably totals out to more than three hours of work each day and I love every second of it,” Quinn said.
“The meaning of the shirts I’d see Coach wear night in and night out really started to impact the way I thought. ‘Earned, Not Given’ became my personal mantra ...,” Quinn said in her Youth of the Year entry essay.
“She is so disciplined and focused that her sister has adopted a similar schedule except it is soccer and drums/aerial silks,” O’Donnell said. “Quinn has single handedly inspired the whole family to set daily goals, stay healthy and try to thrive throughout the shutdown.”
Her work has paid off. Quinn, a sophomore at San Dieguito Academy, has a 4.0 GPA and is taking several honors classes.
Quinn plays guitar and piano and also sings.
“When she decides to pick something up, she excels at it quite quickly,” said O’Donnell. “For example, she was trying to raise money during the spring pandemic and started hand-embroidering facemasks and sold them on a street corner with her sister. After that successful endeavor, she took up watercolors and sold those too.”
Quinn has an entrepreneurial bent and when she was 11 started the “Q&T Rubbish Co.” (Q&T stands for Quinn and Teagan, her younger sister.) The girls put out and bring in the trash and recycling bins for neighbors. They recently expanded services to include a car-detailing service. Quinn is saving the money for college and spending a little on basketball shoes and trainings.
Quinn’s family sees her as an independent thinker. Unlike many teens she’s decided not to spend time on social media. “I know that with every hour I spend working and someone else spends scrolling, I’m just slowly getting better.”
One of Quinn’s biggest role models is Kobe Bryant.
“His love, obsessiveness, and attention to detail is what made him so great and I work to implement these qualities every single workout, every single day,” Quinn said. " You’re not tired until your head hits the pillow when the day ends. Until then, it’s grind time! I think that once you find what you love, the next step is to give 150 percent of yourself to it.”
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