Rebecca Quinn, or Quinny to her teammates, is a current sophomore on the Duke women’s soccer team. For the time being, however, she has traded her Duke kit for that of the Canadian women’s national team, on which she will compete this summer at the Women’s World Cup in Canada. I had a chance to catch up with the centre midfielder, who is playing centre back for the Canadian team, and find out what life is like for a college student who is preparing to compete on soccer’s biggest stage.
What is it like to go from the college season when you are playing with peers, to training with the senior national team whose members can be more than 10 years your senior?
It’s a very different environment being on a college team compared to the senior team. Right now I am living in downtown Vancouver as a full-time footballer. The breadth of knowledge the older players have on the national team is something I try to absorb. Some dinner conversations can be funny because we’re all at such different stages in our lives, but on the pitch we are all treated the same. I think something that is unique to this team is everyone having respect for each other. I know during college it’s easy to be labeled as a freshman and have to pick up cones or fill waters, but I think a cool thing on this team is that everyone is seen as equals, independent of age. Christine Sinclair can still be seen carrying the ball bag off the pitch. You feel confident to voice your opinions and strategies in meetings. It makes for a great environment for collaboration and growth.
What is the biggest adjustment you have had to make from living on campus as a student-athlete to becoming a full-time athlete preparing to compete on soccer’s biggest stage? Do you miss anything about being at school?
It’s a very different lifestyle being on campus as a student athlete compared to a full time footballer. As a student athlete its always hard to balance school and athletics. When you aren’t in school, your only focus is soccer and you can devote all your energy towards it. I get to practice two times a day along with meetings and film review. That isn’t possible at a school with such academic rigor like Duke. I definitely miss my friends and just being in the campus environment.
Do you and your fellow college-aged teammates tend to stick together?
The youngins definitely stick together. One newspaper article leading up to an exhibition game vs. Germany last summer called us “The Fab 5,” and it’s become a joke on the team whenever we are all together. This is a new environment for all of us, so we definitely try to help each other out, whether it’s for a potluck dinner or discussing problems on the field.
How have the older members of the team accepted you?
The older players have been awesome. They love to tease us about how young we are sometimes, but they have been a huge support group for us. They help us on and off the field as much as they can and its made the transition on the team very easy.
You will be competing for the World Cup on your home soil. One of your coaches at Duke, Carla Overbeck, won the 1999 World Cup as a member of Team USA, who hosted the tournament. Have you spoke with her about competing with your own national team on your home turf? How do you feel about competing for Canada in Canada for soccer’s biggest prize?
To be honest I have watched documentaries about the 1999 World Cup and the pressures of being on home soil but have never spoken to her personally about it. I will definitely have to when I get back for a visit. Competing in the U20 World Cup was a great trial run for what its like to be competing on home soil but definitely won’t match the women’s level of play. Playing in a World Cup has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl playing house league soccer and to have the opportunity to do it on home soil is something not many players get to experience in their careers.
How have you seen women’s soccer evolve from when you first started playing to now?
There has been a massive evolution in women’s soccer, especially in Canada. Soccer is the most played women’s sport in Canada, but as I grew up, the media focused on women’s hockey more than soccer. The 2011 World Cup was a huge turning point for the sport. Canada had always done respectably on the world stage, but they never achieved a podium performance. After coming in last at the 2011 World Cup we got a new coach, John Herdman, who is the current senior team coach. The style of play that used to be the Canada’s hallmark was long direct play, very physical defending, and good set pieces. Before the 2012 Olympics the style of play changed to a more possession soccer while maintaining previous strengths. The 2012 bronze medal Olympic team changed women’s soccer in Canada, inspiring the country during that time making headlines in newspapers. It’s incredible that I get the opportunity to play on this team for the next real showing since the last Olympics in 2012.
Is there anybody you want to shoutout back here at Duke?
Just the DWS fam (laughs)
Quinn’s now nonbinary; should this be edited to remove pronouns? Just curious.
Thank you James! I really enjoyed hearing that on a professional team even the older, established players have the same amount of respect for their younger counterparts. I feel like that is such an important aspect of any team at any level.
Thanks for sharing this interview, James! Now that I know of Rebecca, I might actually start following Canada’s women’s team 🙂 Out of curiosity, did you do the interview just for this blog or for some other publication (Chronicle etc.)?
Just for the blog- I’m actually a friend of hers so it worked out great!