All-Area Girls Basketball: Quam controls the court
Mara Quam didn't have to play three sports. A gifted athlete, Quam, who will play volleyball next fall while attending Minnesota State University, Mankato, could have decided a couple years ago to focus solely on one sport. With scholarship ability, that tends to be the direction modern athletes choose.
Quam could have chosen to participate in two sports, like volleyball and track, where the Kenyon-Wanamingo senior also shines, and wins state championships. But that's not how Quam thinks. Instead, she stuck with three sports, and capped her basketball career by becoming the Knights' all-time leading scorer and coming within one victory of the state tournament.
“I think my coaches would have been mad about it,” Quam said with a laugh. “I don't think it would have changed how I played just one sport, maybe in track. But with volleyball and basketball, I put so much time into it, I don't think it would have been different except that I wouldn't have had anything else to do when I'm not in the other sports.”
The time paid off as Quam followed her Republican Eagle Volleyball Player of the Year honor by claiming the Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year award as well. It's a testament to Quam's overall athletic talent and hard work, but it's also an indication of how she views her role as a teammate.
“Part of it with Mara, if she would have focused on just one sport, she probably would have had a lot of teammates that she felt she would have let down,” said K-W head girls basketball coach Brent Lurken. “They depend on her, having someone who can take over whatever sport she's in. There are girls on the volleyball team and the basketball team that need her. And I think that meant a lot, that she knows she's a big part of success and she would let people down. Not that she should feel that, but that's the kind of person she probably would.”
That mentality showed after K-W lost in the Section 1AA championship game, falling by six points to Rochester Lourdes. Moments after the Eagles had clinched a spot in the state tournament, Quam lined up with her teammates. There were no tears. There was no fidgeting. It was a moment Quam said was one of the best, and worst, in her high school career. She did not expect to make a run like that, and to have it taken away was difficult.
But there is an awareness in Quam that few teenagers possess.
“It will be sad,” Quam said of her impending graduation and the close of her prep playing days. “But I'm ready for college. I'm excited to play volleyball, and maybe not playing three sports all year and having a break.”
After averaging 27.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals per game this season, and piling up 2,134 career points, three Hiawatha Valley League All-Conference awards, a spot on the Class 2A All-State Team and back-to-back Player of the Year awards, it will be time off well deserved.
And while Quam's name will be forever linked with her high school and her on-court exploits, there is also the impact left on others. A senior with a few months of high school left, and a future yet to be written may not have the perspective to define a legacy.
But those around her do. And it will spread further than one sport, or three.
“I think one of her biggest qualities I would want to instill in younger kids in our program is to be a competitor,” Lurken said. “You obviously want to go out there and have fun, but when you're out there, you want to compete and do your best. Sometimes whether you win or lose is out of your control. But you can always leave it all on the floor. And that's something she certainly did. That's a special quality and something you want to see your other players emulate.”