The Penn State women's basketball team had an unfortunately-early exit from the WNIT, ending the careers of two senior starters: the nationally-touted Tyra Grant and team tri-captain, Meredith Monroe, who both helped the team to its first post-season appearance in five seasons.
However, two other senior Lady Lions also saw their Penn State careers come to an end that dismal night. Highly-recruited-but-injury-plagued Meggan Quinn and former walk-on Nicole Archidiacono had very different experiences than their first-string teammates, but each left a special stamp on the Penn State program.
Quinn was a record-setting sharp-shooter for Red Lion High School with stacks of college recruitment letters when she came to Penn State. She was just settling in to the college game, appearing in 11 contests her freshman season before suffering the first of two major knee injuries; the second ended her playing career.
Meggan stuck with her rehab program and took on the role of player-coach, earning the title "Team Mom" as well as the Jeanette Goss Courage award. She constantly reminded her teammates to seize the moment because every game could be their last. Normally dressed in street clothes and toting a clip board for the games, Quinn put on her Lady Lion uniform one last time for Senior Night ceremonies, and received a standing ovation. The next uniform she'll put on will be that of a police officer, putting her criminal justice degree to work. Committed to making a difference in her community, she credits the leadership skills and lessons learned on the sidelines rather than on the court with making her the person she is today.
Nicole Archidiacono was a high school star at Archbishop Wood, who turned down interest from Division II and III colleges to embrace the big-school atmosphere at Penn State. When open tryouts were announced for women's basketball, she showed up, though her parents thought she could be heartbroken with the results. To their delight, Nicole made the team, and quickly took on the role of team cheerleader. She earned the squad's Unsung Hero award, and was named a tri-captain for her senior season.
This spring, she graduates with a marketing degree and is off to Nike for a summer internship.
In sports, as in life, leaders take on all sorts of personas, and Archidiacono and Quinn are perfect examples of that. While they may not be All-Amercians, Archie and Meg each take with them a valuable college degree, an array of experiences which only sports can provide, and the honor of being a Penn State captain, all of which will serve them well in the next chapter of their lives.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.