John Quinn, who at age 67 last fall took Conwell-Egan to its first playoff berth since 1988, has been fired. C-E principal Maryjane McHugh said only that she wants to see the program go in a "new direction." John coached at Ryan, Roman, North and C-E in his long career and took teams at all four schools to the playoffs. He won a title at Ryan in '88. John has formed many lasting friendships while helping countless kids. You are welcome to comment on this page.
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I wanted to drop you a note in response to the article from yesterday's
Daily News regarding the dismissal of John Quinn as head football coach
from Conwell-Egan. What kind of message does this send to the young men
and women of Conwell-Egan and the rest of the Archdiocese? Be a good
leader and role model and lose your job anyway? How can the principal
seriously commend Mr. Quinn on his four decades of service to Catholic
schools while firing him? This is a clear example of the continuing
erosion of loyalty and dedication in our parochial schools'
administration that is reflected in the graduates they are producing.
I (along with three of my brothers) had the good fortune to have John
Quinn as a coach, teacher and mentor. The lifelong friendships I forged
while playing for Mr. Quinn remain to this day. He has been an
unmatched role model for hundreds of young men.
My only wish for Ms. Maryjane McHugh is that she can have a fraction of
the impact on young people that John Quinn has had. The world would
certainly be a better place. Sadly, I doubt that she will.
Keep your head up Quinnie!
As to what has occurred at conwell-egan, I have and im sure that others have many questions as to why and what they were thinking upon making this decision. The principal mentioned that this was a school wide decision. I seriously doubt that. It was about as wide as the width between her ears. How can principal mchugh justify this decision? Who reviews her job performance? Cardinal bevilacqua? Im sure that she has to answer to someone. Im also sure that the cardinal would not approve of the type of message that this decision sends to young people. Furthermore, when the principal was asked to place in writing the facts that led to her decision, she replied with a vague letter that did not specify reasons. Is this the type of person and decision maker that should be in a position of authority in the archdiocese? What is she going to do next, cancel computer 101?
The facts are, if she did specify the reasons for my fathers dismissal as coach, she realizes the she would be placing on paper, grounds for a lawsuit against the archdiocese. My father has enough ex-players that are now lawyers that would love to get their hands on this case. My father has no interest in suing, all he wanted was what he deserved, to coach these kids next season and go out on top.
Three years ago, at the start of his first season at Egan, my father told me that he realized that had he just begun a 4 year project to build the program. Notice that i stated "build the program," not, " re-build," he could not believe how bad the situation was, and the type of commitment that was needed to turn things around. The whole place was a mess, the locker room, weight room, etc and you could not possibly improve the situation unless you started over. My father committed himself 100% to do the job and more importantly, to the kids. Three years ago, he told me that the team would maybe win a game or two for the first 2 years, make the playoffs in the third year, and challenge for the title in the fourth year. It looks to me that they were right on schedule.
In the 2001 season, Conwell-Egan returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1988, had 4 underclassman along with Joe Lamina and Vince Salvatore named to the coachs all-catholic team, fieled a junior varsity team which had an excellent season, and will return all but 3 varsity starters for the 2002 season. Included within that group is steve slaton, an outstanding freshman running back. If that doesnt equal a turn around of the program, then i quite frankly, i dont know what does.
Coach Quinn and his staff accomplished this feat without grabbing a player by the facemask, embarrassing any player in front of their teammates or swearing on the sidelines. Also, if you were to ask any opposing coach within the catholic league blue division as to which team has made the most progress and who could potentially challenge for the division championship over the next couple of years, many would reply Conwell-Egan. It is a shame for the kids, they certainly deserve better.
Coach Quinn has done exactly what was asked of him 3 years ago, to create respectability in a beaten down program and to instill a positive attitude for the future. It is a shame that he and his staff will not be able to enjoy the upcoming season and beyond which look to be very promising as a result of their commitment and kids' hard work.
John Quinn is a man that possesses all of the fine qualities of a caring human being. His name will always be used in the same sentence with gentlemen, class and character. The same cannot be said for the football geniuses at Conwell-Egan. I guess that thirty years without a championship qualifies one as an expert. It has been a long time since there had been this much excitement about the upcoming season at Conwell-Egan. Why didnt they ask the players if the program was on the right track? They are the ones who are affected the most. I guess the plan was to use John Quinn and his staff to build the program and lay the groundwork and then allow someone else to reap the benefits.
I am confused as to what the Archdiocese is supposed to represent. I thought one of the goals of the Archdiocese was to assist young men and women through providing a positive example of Christians should live their life. John Quinn is the definition of a positive role model. I dont know what type of message that this decision sends to young people, but i know that it is not a positive one.
Whenever his teams would suffer a tough loss, my father would ofter tell his players, "Somewhere in America, at this moment, some young kid is being told that he or she has a terminal illness and that they are not going to make it, so if losing this football game is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you will lead a charmed life"
John Quinn has led a charmed life.
For the record, my father has won 5 division or playoff championships, a catholic league championship and has been honored as coach of the year on countless occasions. However, he has alaways been a better person than he was a coach.
After 41 years of service in the Archdiocese, John Quinn deserved better. One would think that a principal In the archdiocese of philadelphia would be able to spell class, but not at Conwell-Egan. Maybe the cardinal should review this problem, after all, correct spelling is very important in order to succeed in life.
One thing is for sure, the championships and coaching awards will always pale in comparison to what he has meant to so many people as a friend, and to those closest to him, as a husband, a grandfather, and a father.
Your proud son,
i am writing in response to today's article about the firing of conwell -egan football coach john quinn . i had the honor and privilege of playing for him as a young quaterback in the 70's (RYAN 73-74) we lost to eventual city champ archbishop wood that year in the northern division playoff game .!! Mr. quinn is a legend not just for his tremendous coaching ability and motivation skills but for his own unique way of getting through and relating to young kids what's important to be successful. i played college football at universities in kansas , conneticut and oklahoma and also signed pro contracts with the seahawks (1980) and new york jets (1982) none of which would have been possible without him !!
I think principle mchugh was to caught up in the football record of coach quinn instead of looking at the real WINS he had helping his players to succeed in school and in the game of LIFE !! i think it is impossible to truly get to know and understand the man in only four month's if she had taken the time i am sure her "PERSPECTIVE" would be quite different.
ted ,you have been around long enough to spot a class guy when you see one , john quinn personifies CLASS !!!
---- DAVE GREENHALGH
As with anything you will never get a straight answer from the administrators
at Conwel Egan or any other school for that matter. There is no such thing as
loyalty. John Quinn was loyal to the school and the kids he coached. Where
did it get him? Fired I think it is comforting that John has so many
friends. For those that played for him and were affected by him your comments
can make him feel better at this time.
As a true fan of the sport of football, I send all condolences to Coach Quinn, his family, and the team he is leaving behind. As a player in the Catholic League for four glorious years, I can honestly say that Coach Quinn was a class act. Our games against Conwell-Egan were always battles fought to the end, and the team never quit. This is truly a tribute to their coaching staff, including Coach Quinn. I think a good fit for a coach of John Quinn's stature would be Cardinal Dougherty.
After the recent retirement of Coach Jerry McConnell (antoher great caoch, if I might add), the position is currently open, and I have heard that Coach Quinn has applied for the job. It would be great to see what Quinn would do with a talented group of kids at Dougherty after seeing what he did with his team this year.
No matter where either of these coaches turn up, I am sure that their respective teams will be all the more better for having the experience to play for great coaches from the Catholic League.
Ted, It's a sad day in the Phila. Cathoilc League when a great man like
John Quinn is treated like this. How can this principal make such a decision
after such a short period of time? Did she really know him and understand
what he meant to kids? Having coached against John, I can only say that
this man is full of class. Everything he does is for the betterment of the
kids. He turned that program around this year and was headed in the right
direction. What a lousy message that school has sent out to kids! Maybe
the principle should look at the athletic director, or was he also involved
in pushing this decision. Here is a guy (athletic director) who is the head
of the athletic directors, how much does he care about the kids? He allows
the Catholic league CHAMPIONSHIP games to be played on a horrible field. And
also allows a CHAMPIONSHIP game to be canceled due to a possibility of
rain????? Does he showcase the kids, NOT!!!!!!!!!!
John Quinn will land on his feet, the next school who gets him will reap the
rewards of a person who is in it for the KIDS!!!!!!!!!!
---- GOOD LUCK JOHN!!!!!!
(Ted's note: For the record, the public school system told the CL it could not
use NE High's field for the Blue title game when it originally would have been played.
I agree that the CL should somehow find a way to play its title games in nicer venues.)
The topics that we would talk about would range from the state of Notre Dame football to good restaurants in the area.
Did you watch this game? How about that kid and the way he runs? What do you hear about this coach?
He's a walking encyclopedia of everything about the Catholic League. Good teams. Bad teams. Good players. Wacky games.
In my years covering this league for a variety of publications, I don't think I've met a person with more common decency.
Watching John Quinn coach a football team is a joy. The man puts a lot of himself into each and every season. He cries with them when they lose. He cries even harder in joy when they win.
Its the ultimate in what educators and high school coaches are supposed to be about. Life lessons, not wins and losses. Bonding. Teaching the right lessons.
As a reporter, you're not supposed to root for teams. The paycheck stays the same, no matter who wins or loses.
Talk an hour with John Quinn and learn a lesson. Not just about football, but everything in life.
One time, I saw John in Franklin Mills. I was doing a story about Willie Mays appearing there for the News Gleaner, the weekly I worked for at the time.
I brought my dad along with me, thinking it would be cool for him to see Willie. As I walked to talk to a press agent for the company Mays was connected with, I see Quinnie talking to my dad.
They must have gone on for an hour. The topics ranged from Mays and Mantle to Al Angelo and The Four Horsemen. My head was spinning.
Afterwards, my dad went "Geez, if I had another son, I'd want him to play for Quinnie". And that said a lot to me, because Dad throws compliments around like manhole covers.
I remember watching "Quinnie" when he first took over at North in the mid-1990's. The Falcons were brutal before he got there. They played down the shore in the Beach Bowl the first year, and almost beat a Neumann team that had 10 times the talent. But John acted like they had won, because "the kids had fun and they played their hearts out, and that's what I want them to do."
It was a lesson for the kids to learn. And geez, isn't that what coaching is all about. Teaching good lessons?
There's a line that's always used about Larry Brown... He leaves a place in better shape then when he found it. Well, Ryan was better off when Quinn left. Roman went to the finals under him. Hell, he got North and Egan to the playoffs.
When he first told me he was thinking about going to Egan after one season as Glen Galeone's assistant, my reaction to him was pretty blunt. "Are you nuts?" John was coming off an illness that was pretty severe. In fact, it flared up again while at Egan.
And I didn't think the Good Lord could save the Egan football program.
But John said that he missed the game, and he missed the kids. And that was good enough reason to try again.
I'm not trying to say Egan was a juggernaut under John, because they were not. But they tried hard, and they were getting better.
(A side note: I hope that another good guy, Egan AD Chuck Knowles, doesn't come back to coach the program. It would look really bad for Chuck, creating a situation that he couldn't possibly win for trying. The appearance would be that Chuck shoved John under the train.)
Most importantly, in a league where we have seen some shaky character issues pop up the past few years, Quinn has been the very definition of class. No cursing in front of the kids. No showboating by his players. Just an honest efforts from a group of coaches and players.
Somebody else will hire John Quinn. If North Catholic were smart, he'd be back there next season.
And if he isn't, I hope he's standing on the sidelines next to Ted or myself. We could always use a good conversation partner.
I got sick to my stomach when my father called me last week to tell me
that Mr. Quinn was fired. My first reaction was anger but the more i
thought about it i started to feel bad for the Egan players and not as bad
for Mr. Quinn. Everyone that knows Mr. Quinn knows that he will bounce back
and lead some doormat team to glory. John Quinn is a WINNER and he will win
again. I have been lucky enough to get to know Mr. Quinn through my family
and i was also lucky enough to be coached by him my junior year at Ryan. He
is the nicest man that i have ever met, he is a man who genuinly cares
about people and has done so many nice things for people that no one ever
hears about. As a coach he BUILT RYAN,lead Roman to the finals only to lose
to the program he built, took North to the playoffs,and most recently has
people excited about egan football,EGAN. As the son of a football coach who
took over two programs that were down I saw the amount of dedication it
takes to get them competitive let alone winning like Mr. Quinn has done. I
have never met a person who has a bad thing to say about Mr. Quinn
(although im only 20), but i have met alot of former Ryan players who have
said that playing football at Ryan for Mr. Quinn was the best time of their
life. Mr. Quinn deserves better, he deserves to go out Winning the CATHOLIC
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP not being fired by someone who knows nothing about
football or running a successful operation for that matter. Wherever Mr.
Quinn decides to coach again that team will WIN. In a perfect world he
would do it at Archbishop Ryan.
---- Frank McArdle
All I have to say on this is after firing such a great coach, the only way Egan can further assure not going anywhere in the next few years is if they kick steve slaton out of school for being too good. The "New Direction" their administration must be looking for can only be one of failure without John Quinn at the helm. Nuff said
---- Dan "Salamander" McLaughlin
I read you're comments on John Quinn. I had the pleasure of meeting John this past fall. I am an assistant coach at St. John Neumann and played there from 88-91. It is a real shame that a man as intelligent as John will not be sharing it with the kids.
---- Shawn Brown
Hey Ted long time no hear, not sure if you remember me but I'm a football
player from Cardinal Dougherty and was shocked to hear about the firing of
Egan's head coach, i know the Cardinals weren't the best well we were far
from it but Egan's team shall i say ummmmm not so great but the were scrappers
and it took them, a not so talented team to the playoffs, i believe thats a
trait that comes from the coach and his staff and is something Dougherty
would be in desperate need of what are the chances of John Quinn coming to
Dougherty? At 67 does he still want to coach?
(Ted's note: I know he still wanted to coach C-E. Whether he'd want to start
over at Dougherty or North, I'm not sure.)
Greetings from sunny Florida! I read your web site last night and was
astonished to read about the firing of John Quinn as football coach at
What were the people responsible for making this decision thinking? The
explanation proffered, that they are looking in another direction, is an insult to the
forty years of dedication that John has given to the Catholic League.
Another direction? Is the teaching of honesty and character the wrong
Another direction? Is teaching young men that the effort is as important as
the reward the wrong message?
Another direction? Is teaching athletes the importance of keeping the game in
perspective relative to the real world the wrong direction?
Another direction? Is competing honestly in all aspects and being true to
yourself in all your relationships the wrong direction?
Another direction? Is teaching that confidence and humility can go hand in
hand the wrong lesson?
Just which direction is it that the Principal would like to go?
The statement that this was a school-wide decision was also put forth. I
doubt it! This
decision reeks of backstabbing and behind the scenes politicking. Someone at
Conwell-Egan, someone with courage, owes John Quinn an explanation about
exactly, they were dissatisfied with; not the patronizing farewell note he
was given. John is a big boy, if there is honest criticism he can handle it.
Unfortunately, the losers here are the players at Conwell-Egan.
I have known John for thirty-five years and had the honor to have both played
coached under him. I believe I am qualified to speak for over one thousand
players to have known John as a coach, teacher or mentor. Like him or not, he
has certainly had a positive impact on all our lives! I can also say without
doubt that aside from a few gray hairs and the lessons learned from surviving
a serious illness, John has not allowed age to make a substantial change in
who he is. Rest assured, hes the same old Quinny.
Maybe thats the answer to the decision made at Conwell-Egan. Maybe a man
like John, who will not bow to pressure; who will not engage in petty
politics; a man who will not let those with agendas other than what is in the
best interests of the players, is perceived as a threat.
Or, maybe its wins they want! After years of struggle Conwell-Egan did make
playoffs in 2001; they had a 7-2 Junior Varsity record and a winning freshman
Is that the wrong direction?
My suggestion to those responsible for the decision to dismiss John - try
this direction -
the high road! You might like the view.
---- Rick Eife
(Ted's note: Thanks very much for this, Rick. I hope someone tells John
that YOU had his back, big-time. Stay well down there.)
I am trying to figure out what direction Conwell Egan is trying to go. Is it up, a direction John Quinn and his staff were heading. Maybe it is down, where the program was for about 10 years before his arrival (No offense to Coach Knowles) . As a fellow coach, and I know I speak for a lot of other coaches, John's teams struck the fear of God in you when you needed to win a game from them. He would constantly keep you off balance. His kids would play their collective butts off.
When a program is down for a long period of time, it takes at least a couple of years to turn it around. You have to change the whole complexion of the program. You can see John Quinn has done that with this program from head to toe. A very competitive J.V. team and a great freshman team (without star freshman Steve Slaton). Not getting the chance to complete this reclamation of the program is unfair. This is more like a sabotage. I think Ms McHugh has a pro football style of managing a program. I hope John the best. He is quite a gentleman, in every sense of the world.
---- Steve Smith, Offensive Line Coach St. John Neumann