Akouris: Sam Quigley right at home
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org January 1, 2013 4:10PM
University of St. Francis women's basketball coach Sam Quigley. | Supplied photo
Updated: February 3, 2013 6:11AM
Samantha Quigley just turned 25 nearly two weeks ago. And the significance of her age and position at the University of St. Francis wasn’t lost on the athletic department staff.
“(People) around the office joke that now I can finally drive the team bus,” Quigley said. “Our last two games have gone into overtime (a double-overtime victory over Holy Cross and a loss to Robert Morris) and I feel like I’ve been losing my hair.”
Quigley, a Joliet native and former star at Joliet Catholic and DePaul, is in her first season as the Saints women’s basketball coach.
It’s a job Quigley was groomed for, maybe at an early age, since she used to shoot baskets with older sister, Allie, at the St. Francis gym as a toddler. And the basketball court is named for her late father, Pat Quigley, so there is a sense of appropriateness in Quigley coaching there.
“Its been really fun and there is a great group of people here to work with,” said Quigley, who was hired over the summer after serving as an assistant. “It’s been a home to me since I’ve been 2 or 3 years old, and I’ve been coming (to St. Francis) on Sundays to shoot around with my parents. It’s familiar to me and been a big part of my life.”
On the job
Quigley’s first game as a head coach was a 71-47 loss Oct. 31 to Bethel College. The Saints then dropped the second game of Quigley’s tenure, 75-64 to Roosevelt.
“I was a little nervous (before the first game), but as a player I was always kind of vocal and a coach-like player on the floor,” Quigley said. “It wasn’t anything new to me ... I was just sitting in a different chair.
“But having been here last year, it was a familiar place to me. That was pretty helpful and keeping me not so nervous and comfortable.”
Over the weekend, the Saints finished fourth in the St. Xavier Tournament, dropping the third-place game 77-65 to Huntington. That dropped the Saints’ record to 7-9.
Quigley may be comfortable, but the road has been anything but easy.
For starters, she’s without starting guard Cydney Weisflog, who tore an ACL in her knee during a preseason scrimmage against Joliet Junior College. During the 2011-12 season, Weisflog was the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference second most accurate three-point shooter at 39.8 percent.
And the Saints have been without forward Katie Gonnering for a time, because of three head injuries.
“I had two concussions and a head injury just (two weeks) ago,” Gonnering said. “My first two concussions were during practice, then my last head injury was during the game with Holy Cross.”
On. Dec. 26, doctors cleared Gonnering, an NAIA honorable mention All-American, to play.
The Saints, and Quigley, are going to need Gonnering, who is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.5 points in her first 11 games.
“We are a young team, but that is not an excuse,” Quigley said. “We’ve played a lot of tough teams and have been competitive. Even after losses, I think of them as learning experiences. We have a lot of new players and everything is kind of new,”
Putting a stamp on it
This program is Quigley’s own to shape in the way she wants it to be. At 25, Quigley has a lot of time to cement her legacy at the Joliet university.
To start, Quigley is taking a basic, common-sense approach to practice and emphasizing that her players just need to get better every day.
“In the middle of the season it is hard to have a three- or four-hour practice when you’re in the middle of the conference season,” Quigley said. “I’ve tried to push them to do things like getting into the gym to do extra work, getting extra shots, things like that.”
And it’s probably going to be easier for Quigley to make her impact on the program known with support from players such as Ashley Teresiak, who knew Quigley was the right choice all along when the coaching vacancy came up last season.
Teresiak said she and her teammates participated in the hiring process through interviews and luncheons with the candidates. They knew all along that Quigley was the best fit.
“We really did want her, and to get her was a grace for us personally,” Teresiak said. “We already got to know her (as an assistant) and she got to know us. It’s nice to have her as a coach. The thinking at the time was that you have this coach right in front of you that you really want to have.”