November 22, 2014

Elyria
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Jenna Quillen stars on Keystone soccer and volleyball teams

Love makes people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Jenna Quillen will tell you all about what she did for love. In fact, she’s still doing it.

“It’s very exhausting,” said Quillen, a junior at Keystone High. “If it weren’t for my love of both sports, I couldn’t play both at the same time.”

Quillen is on two varsity teams at the moment. She’s a forward and goalie on the Wildcats soccer team and a middle hitter on the volleyball squad.

Rather than being torn between two loves, Quillen has opted for a delicate balancing act. There are other Keystone students doing two sports this fall, but no one who is trying the trick with two team sports.

“This isn’t an ideal situation,” Quillen admitted. “I sometimes feel like I’m letting teammates down. But I give 100 percent to both sports.”

But no one can be in two places at once.

“There is some conflict,” Quillen said, “but I go to everything I can make.”

Both sports are played in the evenings, and usually on different nights of the week. Practices are in the afternoons.

“Jenna gives everything she has,” Keystone girls soccer coach Tim Giesel said. “She is quick, she’s strong and she has a good shot. The girls seem to have more confidence when she’s out there.”

That confidence she instills likely makes Quillen more valuable to the soccer team. The volleyball team has been rolling, having won 10 of 12 matches as of Tuesday, and losing only to the first- and second-place teams in the Patriot Athletic Conference. The Wildcats took both of the opponents — state-ranked Brookside and Clearview — to five games.

The soccer team is not doing so well. The Wildcats were 1-7-1 in PAC games as of Monday.

“The team is very young,” Quillen said. “The won-lost record doesn’t show how much better we’ve become since the start of the season.”

Quillen has become better herself. An ankle injury suffered playing volleyball in a summer league at All Pro Freight Stadium gave her a slow start in both sports.

Quillen is still one of the top scoring threats the soccer team has. She’s scored four goals in PAC games, tied for first on the team despite sharing goalie duties with Kayla Gordon.

“In preseason she was the only goalie I had with any experience,” Giesel said.

In the 2011 preseason, Quillen didn’t have that experience. She didn’t play soccer as a freshman. Former volleyball coach Dave Cross said she couldn’t if she wanted to play her other sport. Coaches since then — Rachael Bailes in 2011 and Bud Trego this season — have given Quillen the OK.

“Rachael and Heather (Bailes, assistant coach) allowed her to do both,” Trego said. “I thought I shouldn’t change that.”

“It was very disappointing to be told I wasn’t allowed to (play) one of my favorite sports,” Quillen said. “Volleyball comes first, but I always thought I could do both.”

Volleyball might come first, but Quillen won’t say which is her better sport. She has been playing organized soccer longer, starting when she was 6. She didn’t take up volleyball until she was 12, in spite of a family history with the sport.

“I watched my brother Jerrod play in college, at IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne),” Quillen said. “They went to the NCAA Final Four.”

The year was 2007. The Mastadons lost the national championship to the University of California-Irvine in four games.

“That was when I decided to join a Junior Olympics team,” Quillen said. “I was around volleyball my whole life. My whole family played — mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother. The coach is a friend of the family.”

Quillen is also on the track team, competing in the high jump, hurdles and 1,600-meter relay. She hopes to go to college and play a varsity sport.

When that day arrives, she’ll have to face a hard decision.

Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or stephenbyrne@att.net.