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Adversity is not in Moeller High School lacrosse player Quinn Smith's vocabulary

Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 21:34:02-04

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Adversity is not in Quinn Smith's vocabulary.

The Moeller High School senior lacrosse player knew from an early age that nothing was going to hinder his effort in athletics.

Smith, 18, was born with a congenital amputation of his right arm below the elbow as a result of an unknown genetic anomaly.

"I think because of my situation of only having one hand and not so much mobility on the other side - I think that's what created the work ethic I have," Smith said.

"I think if I had two hands - it could potentially be there - but I don't think it'd be as strong or I'd have as much desire to succeed."

The path to success during his only season of lacrosse at Moeller this spring hasn't always been easy.

Smith transferred to Moeller midway through his sophomore year and played hockey. He suffered a back injury before the lacrosse season and wasn't able to participate that spring.

As a junior, he played hockey but fractured his hip. He was back in time for the start of lacrosse before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring season.

Even though he couldn't play lacrosse with the Crusaders last year, Smith lifted and practiced on his own.

"With the injuries and everything he does not know what adversity means," Moeller lacrosse coach Sean McGinnis said. "He just knows to blow right through it."

That mentality for Smith is evident this season.

"He can really tailor what he does to the fact that he has one hand," said Maren Pajari-Smith, Quinn's mother. "It doesn't impede him in any way. He can be creative with how he passes, catches and shoots."

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Smith, who plays attack, has helped to lead the Crusaders to a 9-1 record as Moeller prepares to host Springboro (10-2) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Belmont (N.C.) Abbey College signee has 13 goals and 14 assists.

"In my close to 20 years of coaching you just run across a special type of player," McGinnis said.

"I've been lucky to coach some really great kids and especially here at Moeller and just some fantastic young men over the course of my career. It's great when you have a glue guy and that's what Quinn is."

Quinn Smith.jpeg
Moeller senior Quinn Smith is thriving in his first season on the Crusaders' lacrosse team.

Smith's cool, laid-back demeanor helps his teammates on the field and in the locker room. His good-natured ribbing and one-liners put others at ease.

Smith didn't put his name in for captain consideration this season because he knew he could be a leader without the 'C' on his jersey.

"I think that kind of speaks to his personality," said Pajari-Smith. "He doesn't have to be in that spotlight. He knows what he can contribute and what his abilities are and I think the guys respect him for that, too."

The Crusaders understand Smith's unselfish nature. His knowledge and passion for lacrosse allows him to think a few steps ahead during a game; that can create problems for the defense.

"He really has an IQ for the game," McGinnis. "So he's able to talk about the things that we need to do better as a six-man unit offensively. He's almost like a fifth coach out on the field."

That leadership is no surprise to those who know Smith the most.

There wasn't a sport he didn't want to play growing up - whether that was soccer, hockey, lacrosse or baseball. He enjoys playing golf for recreation.

"In fact one of the things that actually frustrated him over the years was that he couldn't play football because of his hockey season," said Ken Smith, Quinn's father.

Moeller senior Quinn Smith has played lacrosse since the sixth grade. He has signed to play at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina next school year.

As a youngster, Quinn Smith didn't think twice about his right arm. He played baseball into middle school, including as a catcher because he knew that position was more challenging.

"'Adapt' might not even be the right word because he just figured out what he wanted to do and how to do it," said Ken Smith.

"There's times people do a double take and don't even realize that he's missing a hand."

Quinn Smith has usually heard respectful comments or questions when he's playing lacrosse. But, he's also heard reactions from opponents who underestimate him.

"I'm like, 'Watch this' and I will go do something the next play and they're like 'Oh,'" Quinn said. "I'm like, 'Exactly.'"

It's the creativity associated with lacrosse which Quinn likes the most about the sport he started in sixth grade.

"In my case I can't shoot righty or pass necessarily but with the way I've taught myself to use my wrist mobility and move the stick - it's allowed me to kind of create new passes or looks or shots that a lot of deep holes (defensive players) or goalies may have not seen before," Smith said.

McGinnis said Smith's skill set is also very good in transition where he can find the soft spot in the defense.

Like a coach on the field, Smith empowers his teammates with confidence.

"The kids love being around him," McGinnis said. "He's just an all-around great kid and he's a super-positive kid. Especially in this day a lot of people preach and talk about positivity and positive teams and positive teammates - he just exemplifies that."