Legacy Remembered at Quigley Tournament
A common theme across campus this week has been how the impact of one man can last long beyond his life. This weekend at the Jon Quigley Memorial Water Polo Tournament, Penn State’s men’s and women’s club water polo teams proudly celebrated the impact made by a friend and teammate.
The tournament’s namesake, Jonathon Quigley, passed away following a car accident in June 2009, about a month after the conclusion of his freshman year at Penn State. The following year, Penn State water polo created the event to preserve Jon’s legacy as a Penn Stater and water polo player.
Now in its third year, the Jon Quigley Memorial Tournament featured the Nittany Lions hosting West Chester, Ohio State, and Pittsburgh on the women’s side, and North Carolina on the men’s side, in addition to Penn State’s teams and alumni teams. A memorial for Jon led by Drew Quigley, Jon’s younger brother and Vice President of the Penn State men’s team, kicked off Sunday’s matches at the McCoy Natatorium.
“It’s nice to see that Jon still has a legacy here,” Drew told the crowd as he spoke of his brother’s love for Penn State, water polo, THON, and life. Tommy Miceli, a junior on the men’s team and a teammate of Jon’s since high school, called the tournament proof of “what Jon did and continues to do” for the team as he addressed the crowd. 2010 graduate Mitch Palski also spoke on Sunday.
“It’s incredible because he’s still living on here through all of us and through us playing water polo,” Drew Quigley told me as we watched the first match from the pool deck. “It’s great that everyone comes together to have a good time and pay tribute to him.”
The Quigley family gave much of the credit for the event’s success to Cole Hepper and Christin DeMoss, the presidents of Penn State’s men’s and women’s club water polo teams, respectively, who planned the tournament. They received plenty of help from Jon’s teammates, friends, and family as well as Penn State Club Sports.
Continuing the tradition that began last year, the money raised by the tournament will go towards two $400 scholarships given to high school seniors as well as to THON, a cause Jon involved himself with through Atlas THON.
“We’re grateful that the water polo teams hold the tournament. We know that Jon would be thrilled that the money is going to THON and towards scholarships,” said Judith Quigley, Jon’s mother. His father, Stephen Quigley, added that the tournament acts as a great introduction to THON three weeks later.
For Quigley’s parents, the tournament meant spending the weekend with Jon’s friends and teammates in the place that he loved most.
“We love being able to see everyone,” said Judith Quigley as she sat near a box of t-shirts bearing her son’s #13 cap. “We would have lost that whole group of kids in addition to losing Jon if they didn’t do things like this.”
“It’s a phenomenal weekend to be with the kids,” added Stephen Quigley. “They take Jon to heart with everything they do.”
Senior Rachel Wallen, a member of the Penn State women’s team, shared her thoughts on Jon Quigley’s place among his friends and teammates before her match on Sunday.
“As we’ve learned this week especially, one person, if it’s the right person, can change everything. At 19, Jon Quigley changed my life. This tournament doesn’t begin to do his life justice but I hope it continues to pay tribute to such an amazing person.”
Quigley’s mother captured the spirit of her son and of the weekend as we finished our conversation in the stands.
“Jon loved life, he loved people, he really never saw anything bad in a person,” she told me. “He loved polo, he loved the kids [on the team], he loved being a Penn Stater. It’s comforting that the kids continue to remember Jon and that he continues to live on in their hearts like he does in ours.”