The Christmas holiday season couldn’t have come soon enough for Canadian defender Rebecca Quinn.
Quinn, a 20-year-old Toronto native, is coming off an extremely busy 2015 that included her playing at the Pan American Games, a run to the final of the NCAA National Championship with Duke, and training camps with the Canadian senior women’s team.
In fact, the day after her college season wrapped in December, she was on a plane headed to Brazil to join the national team for the Torneio Internacional de Natal. While in Brazil, she suited up in three matches, bringing her total tally of caps with the senior squad to 12.
She’s currently with the senior team once again in Vancouver, preparing for another camp ahead of next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Texas.
Sportsnet recently caught up with the defender to discuss what the last 12 months have taught her and about her goal of becoming a mainstay on the senior women’s team.
What’s it like being with the national team following a quick turnaround from your NCAA squad?
I have nothing but great things to say about being back in the environment. It has been quite some time since being with the full squad, but it’s familiar faces and the relationships I’ve built with them from taking a semester off and essentially being with the team for the entire spring. It was kind of weird going back to school initially. It’s been really great being able to catch up with everyone and just being around some great quality soccer again.
Congratulations on the recent run to the College Cup final with Duke in your junior year. What can you tell us about your experience?
It was an unfortunate final result. The run was a great experience, especially since we were going through a growth period from not making the tournament last year to having a bunch of coaching changes and general ways to running our program at Duke. It was a difficult start for us to be honest. We lost some matches and we really shouldn’t have been getting those results.
The growth that our team made from essentially a new style of play and what not, that finally clicked in the tournament. We’re still growing. It still has so many things to grow upon. All of the parts came together though; we had the quality and I think it was just about creating those connections that finally came together at the end of the year.
You have experience, both in college and on the national team, as a centre back and a midfielder. Where do you see yourself playing on the field?
I think centre back is for sure my preference. It’s the position I’m the most comfortable in now. In college, I was recruited as an attacking midfielder and I think there are some skill sets that I do bring to Duke in the midfield. We, unfortunately, had one of our centre backs tear her ACL. Then I played centre back full time. With the national team though, I think centre back is for sure where my best qualities show and the role where I see myself playing going forward.
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Olympic qualifications are just around the corner. What are you going to do with your game to make sure you’re on the team?
I don’t think it’s as much as adapting as it is more for me and the entire team to hone into our skill sets and having that confidence. We know the qualities we’re extremely good at and I think we have the confidence to get it done. It’s really about embracing the things and how we’ve set ourselves up so far. We’ve been around John [Herdman] for such a long time and I think it comes down to the clarity the players have in terms of what they need to do, what they have different from others in the game.
You’re not too far removed from being one of the youngest on the team. What’s it like welcoming some of the new players coming through the pipeline and getting them acclimated to the senior squad?
Funny, we were reminiscing about this, like with Kadeisha [Buchanan], Ashley [Lawrence], Janine [Beckie], we were all talking about this. It’s a weird change. We were saying that we aren’t the young ones anymore. It’s great that we can share our experience that we had coming into the program at such a young age. We can relate with these girls well, but at the same time, we’re growing into those leadership roles and larger personalities on the team. It’s been a fun growing opportunity for us. We hope to keep that going throughout the future.