The Dave Quinn Award is awarded each year to one Junior National athlete. Each of the 10 divisions nominates one person, and then all 10 divisional cast one vote. The winner is announced at the final awards ceremony. This year, this honor was bestowed on one of New England’s own, Will Solow, of Heinsberg VT and currently a freshman at Colby College. The Dave Quinn Award recognizes that JN athlete who best exemplifies the ideals of the cross country sport that Dave Quinn expressed thought out his life. In addition to outstanding results, nominees should have special attributes such as love of the sport, leadership, overcoming hardship, worth ethic, etc. which make them unique.
Here is the lovely nomination presentation on Will Solow from his Colby assistant coach, and JN U20 mens coach, Jackson Bloch.
Good evening! I am so grateful to be given the chance to speak about tonight’s Dave Quinn Award recipient, Will Solow. In my one year coaching Will at Colby College, I learned as much about achieving excellence through character and happiness, as I may have ever previously understood. I don’t think Will knows this, though, and that is probably because these traits start with humility. Will never assumes his place in a situation, never takes his position for granted, and from this mindset springs unending gratitude for his opportunities. A grateful person, Will taught me, invests himself completely at every turn because he yearns to make the most of each chance. He doesn’t know when the next one is coming. And when you find yourself completely involved in the present with an uncompromising dedication to seizing the moment, you realize you are both closest to excellence and at your happiest. This is when magic happens. Will’s club coach told me that Will’s dedication to training and his balanced attitude led his team to choose him as captain his senior year, despite their coach never mentioning leadership or holding elections. They initiated it on their own out of respect for him. And after years of trying to make the Junior Nationals team in New England and following a post-graduate year in Sun Valley, Will finally is wearing the blue and green as a second year U20. He has four All-American finishes this week to reward his patience. As a first year student at Colby, Will, and I don’t know if I’m really allowed to say this… and I do know he’ll be upset with me when I do, had a perfect first semester academically.
What I haven’t said yet is that Will has dealt with degenerative hearing loss his whole life. He would never tell you that it affects him, but as his coach, at least, his roller skis seem doubly dangerous and I take extra care when we speak in order to communicate clearly. Like many individuals facing adversity on any scale, the adjustments Will has needed to make have thrown his opportunities into sharper relief, and he consistently uses this awareness to better himself and those around him. His perspective has made him an astonishingly selfless teammate. He has shared his belief that it is important to appreciate the value of skiing towards personal growth first, before considering the results. His dedicated, yet balanced approach, helped steady our team culture this year, which is no small burden for a first year to shoulder, whether he understood this role or not. And for me personally, Will’s integrity and drive is a consistent reminder to be grateful for the chance to squeeze the present for all it offers, regardless, or because of, what stands in the way.
Thank you, and congratulations Will