It was March 2014. Joe Quinlan ’16 was traveling down to Florida with his baseball team for the start of the season. Quinlan was a sophomore at Thomas College and finally starting regularly on the team.
“I had no cares in the world. Life was great,” said the Sport Management major. “My parents were coming down for the first time to see me play. My dad never travelled – neither did my mom really. So, for them to come see me play in Florida was really exciting.”
Life was about to drastically change for Quinlan.
“I didn’t know it yet, but my parents had found out my dad had cancer.”
His parents didn’t want to tell him until after Florida; instead they told him at a family meeting back in Maine.
“You have a million thoughts going through your head,” he said. “And my mom said ‘Coach King knows. I told him.’”
Quinlan’s coach and Thomas professor, Dr. Greg King, said it was one of the hardest things he had to keep from Quinlan – seeing how happy he was during the 10-day Florida trip.
“At first I was kind of mad at him for not telling me,” said Quinlan. “The first thing I did when I got back to Thomas was to go see Coach. He noticed it was me and took me in and shut the door. And ever since then, everything has been open with him. He has been very caring about my family and myself.”
Quinlan said it was up and down the whole time while his dad was sick and Coach King still allowed him to be a part of the team when he couldn’t be there.
He said his teammates and friends were also very understanding, and when he had to miss games, they always welcomed him back.
A year later, Quinlan’s teammates and Coach King showed up to his dad’s funeral.
“I remember when my best friend, Derek Kane, came up to me to say goodbye at the funeral and said to me ‘just so you know, we couldn’t find a convenience store around here but I tried to get you a Sun Kiss’ because I drink Sun Kiss every day,” he said.
“That’s what I’m going to miss about this place. Those friendships and those relationships are going to be hard to pass up after I graduate.”
Quinlan, from Westbrook, ME, says it is hard to believe he is already graduating.
He is thankful for all of the professors that helped him be successful along the way.
Coach King set him up with an internship as the Director of Baseball Operations at Thomas, and he could go to Dr. Don Cragen for anything.
Quinlan says he credits Professor Jamie Campbell for helping him pass Accounting.
“I was lost and he sat down with me and went over it,” he said. “He helped me tremendously.”
Quinlan will graduate from Thomas on Saturday. And even though his dad won’t be there, he will be thinking of him.
He is so thankful he had his friends to help him through it all.
“I met my best friends here. From high school, there are some kids that I still talk to here and there, but at Thomas I’ve met my best friends that I know I’ll have for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m going to miss having those guys there to lean on when I need them.”