Legacies can be overwhelming or inspiring, depending what you want to make of them.
Haverhill High School senior Katelyn Quinlan chooses the latter, which is wise since she has quite a legacy to live up to.
Her mother, Dr. Stephany Scatamacchia Quinlan, a dentist, was valedictorian of her class at Haverhill High. Katelyn could be following in those lofty footsteps. Late in this school year she has had the No. 1 ranking in her class of about 380 students.
“It’s a lot of late nights,” Katelyn, the Moynihan Lumber Female Scholar-Athlete of the Month for October, said of balancing her studies with her commitment to swimming. “I come home from practice and I’m tired. But I knew I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps. At practice, I try to set the pace. I set real high goals in school or swimming. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
And it takes a lot when you are taking Mary Johnston’s AP biology course and swimming for Hall of Fame coach Rick Battistini.
The coach, who has been the head of the Hillie program for 36 years, raves about Quinlan’s work ethic.
“She’s our hardest worker in the pool and in the gym,'' Battistini said.
At the Division 1 State Meet at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, Quinlan placed seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke (a time of 1:09.70), ninth in the 100-yard freestyle (56.40), fourth in the 200 medley relay and eighth in the 400 freestyle relay.
The relays were special for Katelyn because her sister, freshman Carli Quinlan, swam with her on both. Not surprisingly, Carli is a straight-A student, too.
Katelyn has earned nothing but A’s for three years and one quarter at Haverhill High. She scored an impressive 1,380 on her SATs (1,600 is a perfect score); earned 4s on her AP exams in literature, biology and European history; and got a 5 in the AP exam on U.S. history. A 5 is the top score in AP exams.
Last year she was Haverhill High’s honoree for the Harvard Book Award.
Quinlan, who plans to major in nursing in college, has applied early to Boston College, Northeastern, Simmons and UMass Lowell. She’s also applying to Harvard and Brown. Simmons is her favorite, especially if she receives the prestigious scholarship the school offers for a top student. That would be a full scholarship (tuition, room and board) and a $3,000 annual stipend. The Simmons swim coach is also very high on Quinlan.
“I’ll hear back in February,” said Katelyn, whose dad, Tim Quinlan, is a general contractor who ran track at North Andover High.
Katelyn's career highlight?
“Freshman year we broke the Haverhill freshman relay record — me, Taylor Waligora, Meaghan Driscoll and Amelia Smith,” said Quinlan, whose great uncle was Lawrence High football legend Bill Quinlan of Green Bay Packer fame.
“Then there was a dual meet this year vs. Chelmsford (in the regular-season finale),'' she said. "We didn’t think we’d win — we probably shouldn’t have. It came down to the last relay. We (the Quinlans, Waligora and Driscoll) won that and won by one point. It’s coach’s last season and seeing him so happy was a high point.”
The low point?
“Sophomore year at States didn’t go as well as I hoped,'' Quinlan said. "I was very nervous. It was the first time I swam at Harvard. It was kind of overwhelming. I defeated myself mentally. It was eye-opening.”
But she proudly noted that she didn’t let her struggles prevent her from being a good teammate and supporting the other Hillies.