From humble beginnings: Quinlan prepares for new challenge with Hurricanes

Written by Thomas Becker

It was a simple act of serendipity that started it all.

While trying to enrol her son in a lacrosse league, Brenda Quinlan quickly found out it wasn’t meant to be. There was no room available for the 12-year-old to take part in the sport.

The single mother of six decided instead to sign up her only son for football, a sport that would one day not only help finance his education, but would also help shape this young man’s character.

Fourteen years later, Kyle Quinlan has accepted the opportunity to helm the Holland College Hurricanes Football Club as their new head coach and offensive coordinator, an opportunity that may have never been possible if it weren’t for his mother.

“She worked several jobs at a time and always managed to balance that while enthusiastically engaging in our extra curricular activities. She has inspired me, and continues to inspire me, to work hard and set the bar high in anything you do,” said the 26-year-old Quinlan.

It is this determined attitude that Quinlan hopes will translate to his new team as they prepare to defend their third consecutive Atlantic Football League (AFL) title.

“Our goal this season will be to defend the Moosehead Cup. That will be a tall task with a bunch of new faces on the team, including myself, and the ever-improving level of competition within the AFL, but one that I am very excited about.”

The Woodslee, Ontario, native quickly made a mark on the football scene as an accomplished quarterback, excelling at every level he has played.

As quarterback for McMaster University, Quinlan led the Marauders to a Vanier Cup national championship in 2011, where he was named most valuable player. The following season, he won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the top football player in the country and was later named the CIS Male Athlete of the Year for 2012-2013. Quinlan also holds the university’s record for most career passing touchdowns with 60. After attending training camp with the Montreal Alouettes, Quinlan returned to McMaster, where he was an assistant coach for the past two seasons.

When the head coaching position became available with the Hurricanes, Quinlan quickly jumped at the opportunity to put his stamp on the elite squad.

“I hope to bring this experience and exposure as a player and coach to continue to push the bar at Holland College and build off the impressive tradition that has been established here.”

Quinlan’s appreciation for the small school, in the small locale reminded him a lot of home, making the move to the Maritimes a much easier decision.

“I was raised in a big family in a small town so this immediately was a comfortable place for me. I was impressed with the people around here and the quality of their work. You can tell right away that people are proud to be associated with Holland College and that encourages me about the future of their product.”

As a young coach, Quinlan said he hopes to identify with his players and build a bond that will allow them to grow together, despite the inevitable roadblocks a football season brings.

“I know how difficult it is and how much sacrifice it requires to do this as a player, so I hope to bring that knowledge to these players.”

Quinlan hopes to become the third Hurricane coach in as many years to raise that Moosehead Cup, following Mark MacDougall in 2013 and Andrew Hickey last season. Although admittedly anxious, Quinlan said he’s embracing the challenge that lies ahead and expects no different from his team.

“Pressure situations will reveal the true character of this football team and will be a great experience for the players moving forward in their personal lives.”

Quinlan said he eventually wants to go back to his roots and coordinate an offence in the CIS, but in the meantime, he’s focused on bringing a championship back to Charlottetown.

“We will continue to work hard, to grow as individuals and proudly represent this college and this province on and off the field.”

The Hurricanes play their first home game September 26 at 1 p.m. at UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place.

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