Robbie Quinlan likes to stay as busy as possible.The North Mecklenburg High junior has plenty on his plate again this fall, as he is not only the starting goalkeeper for the Vikings’ boys soccer team but also the starting punter and one of two kickers for the varsity football team.Quinlan, 17 and an International Baccalaureate program student at North Meck, also wrestles for the Vikings in the winter and plays club soccer for the Lake Norman Soccer Club’s under-18 team, mostly in the spring.“This is exactly the way I want it, getting to play all these sports and representing North Meck, I love it,” Quinlan said. “But it does get hectic sometimes. The first four weeks of school, I was playing in four games a week, going to practices every other day and in the IB program on top of all of that. I was dead at the end of each day, but you get used it.”Quinlan regularly goes straight to soccer practice for about 20 minutes after school, then makes the two-minute jog to football practice about 2:50 p.m. to work with the kicking, punting and special teams units.About 3:10 p.m., he goes back to soccer practice, where he returns to his role as an all-conference goalkeeper.For Quinlan this is old hat – he has started in goal for North Mecklenburg since his freshman year and has started at kicker in each of his three seasons as a Viking. This is his first year as starting punter. This season, Quinlan doesn’t always have to make his trek from one practice to another alone, as Vikings’ senior center back Bryce Cracknell is also doubling as North Meck’s kicker on kickoffs, field goals and about half the extra points, as well.“It’s great to have both guys (Quinlan and Cracknell) on the team, because they make us better,” North Mecklenburg football coach Brad Baker said. “But I realize their first passion is soccer, so we try to work around their schedule. I get to see them 15-20 minutes a day, but I know they are working on the kicking on their own, too.”“Coach Baker and I work well together to make sure both guys get to practice for both teams,” Vikings soccer coach Paul Kikta said. “We definitely want what is best for the players and our teams.”The North Mecklenburg boys’ soccer and football teams are both having their best seasons to date, as the Vikings’ soccer team is 10-4-4 (5-2-2 MECKA 4A), good for second place in the conference after winning just 15 games over Quinlan’s first two seasons.Meanwhile, the North Mecklenburg football team is 3-3 overall (1-1 MECKA 4A), equaling its wins from the past two seasons, when they were 2-8 (2012) and 1-10 (2011), respectively.Quinlan has been a contributor for both teams, especially in soccer, where he has 182 saves, a nearly 79 percent save percentage, and three shutouts. While he’s had multiple double-digit save performances, Quinlan had his best game with 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to Hough.“Even though we ended up losing, I loved almost every minute of that game,” Quinlan said. “I really felt like we played a great game, and I had a lot of big saves.” Meanwhile, on the football field, Quinlan is averaging nearly 30 yards per punt, with a season-best 47-yard punt against West Charlotte. Quinlan also had a key 32-yard field goal in the 23-22 victory over the Lions.While Quinlan is the starting punter, he rotates with Cracknell on both extra points and field goals, as Baker says he usually just gets a feel for who he wants on longer kicks, while he tries to alternate on point-after attempts.“It’s nice to have two kickers you can really depend on,” Baker said.Quinlan says that the skills needed in the two sports are often different. His approach to a punt, for example, in football and soccer is totally different. “In football, you have a lot less time and a lot more pressure to get the ball off,” Quinlan said. “In soccer, I can take my time and let it loose (usually going about 60 yards on an average soccer punt). But I enjoy working on both.”While Quinlan enjoys kicking a field goal or extra point, he points out his favorite play on the gridiron is making a tackle, and he got his first stop this year against Myers Park. He says making a tackle and saving a shot on goal give him a similar feeling and rush.While Quinlan loves playing football, his first love and future is in soccer, which he began playing when he was just 3 years old.“I’d really love to get the opportunity to play college soccer,” Quinlan said, and Kikta says he is starting to get some interest. “I’m just getting started that process, getting my highlight tapes and my name out there,” Quinlan said. “Right now, I just have to keep playing my best (soccer).”
Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
Quinlan putting his best foot forward
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer for the Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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