My Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Walpole High School athletics seems to be building a pipeline to UMass-Lowell. In the last two years, Walpole has sent two of its athletes to play lacrosse at Lowell: Conor Foley ('19) for the men and Abby McLaughlin ('19) for the women's team.
Recently, another piece was added to the pipeline with rising senior face-off specialist and midfielder Ben Quinn committing to play at Lowell.
Quinn says Lowell was his top choice school throughout the recruitment process. Set to become a senior captain for Walpole next spring, Quinn says he is excited for the chance to compete at the next level at UML and be reunited with former teammate Conor Foley, a player and friend Quinn says he has always looked up to.
"I couldn’t be more excited to get the chance to play at Lowell," said Quinn. "Lowell has been my top school since we first got in contact. Being able to play with [Conor] Foley again is something that will really benefit me. At Walpole, Conor was a captain I always looked up to, and he was the captain I want to be this upcoming year. He was always a leader on and off the field, and seeing him putting in the extra work always motivated me to do the same."
As far as the recruiting process itself, Quinn says its was certainly unique due to the circumstances involved with the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as injuries plaguing his 2019 summer season. Even without a junior spring season or a sophomore summer season, Quinn kept his foot on the gas and was determined to make the best out of the next chance he got to get noticed. After rehabbing his injury and making the best of an abbreviated summer 2020 season with Coyotes Lacrosse Club, hard work both on and off the field paid off for the future Riverhawk.
"My whole recruiting process was much different than most," said Quinn. "In lacrosse and some other sports, the summer going into your junior year is very important because on September 1, coaches are allowed to contact you. It is important to stand out that season to get as many coaches as you can interested in you. My summer didn’t go like that. Last summer, the first game of my first tournament, I broke my hand and ended up needed surgery, keeping me out for the whole summer. It was really heartbreaking, but it motivated me to do all I can to get better than I was before. I was cleared to play in the fall tournaments, which was the first time Coach Stephenson was able to watch me, and I got on his radar. Losing the entire spring season was devastating, and not being able to send film out slowed the recruiting process for all athletes. My club team and I were excited to hear we were able to start no-contact practices to get ready for tournaments that could be cancelled at any time. I knew that we might only get one tournament, and I had to make the most of every opportunity. After my first two tournaments, the assistant coach, Coach Mummau, set up a call with me. After having a very good talk with him, I received a call from Coach Stephenson, telling me they want me being their guy. The feeling after he offered me is something I’ll never forget. It made me realize that every time my coaches and my trainers pushed me was to put me in a spot where I can make this dream come true."
Next spring, the entire Massachusetts high school lacrosse community will try and get back to normal, assuming the virus is under control. Like always for Walpole, a return to play would mean a return to championship aspirations. Quinn says he and his Walpole teammates are hopeful for a 2021 spring season, and are hungry to compete for a state championship.
"My senior season is something that I’ve always looked forward to, but I never imagined it to be like this," said Quinn. "With everything going on, there is always some uncertainty but we have to prepare to play an entire season. Being able to play summer lacrosse and making it feel normal gives me hope that our spring season will be the same as always. I know that as soon as the season starts, the team will be ready because it’s something that we all miss. Not being able to play last spring fires us up to play this spring. All our upperclassmen on the team are strong and the have experience playing at the varsity level, so I expect us to come into this season hungry."
For funny and insightful sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.