Alumna Noelle Quinn ‘03 Named Head Coach of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm
Noelle Quinn draws up a play during her first timeout as Storm head coach. (Neil Enns/Seattle Storm)

The first several months of 2021 were, simply put, a whirlwind of activity for alumna Noelle Quinn ’03. As Bishop’s Head Girls’ Basketball Coach, she began the year preparing her squad for a season that no one was sure would even happen. With the late start to the high school basketball season, Quinn knew that she would only be able to coach a game or two before handing the reins over to her assistant coaches. Since her retirement from the WNBA as a player in 2018, Quinn has served as an assistant coach with the Seattle Storm, the organization for which she finished her playing career. In a normal year, the high school season ends long before Quinn has to report to the Pacific Northwest for her other coaching duties, so juggling both has been pretty manageable. In a year that has been anything but normal, 2021 has proven to be a time when things can, and will, change very quickly.

(Neil Enns/Seattle Storm)

On May 30, just six games into the WNBA season, a dramatic change occurred for Quinn when she was named head coach of the Storm when Dan Hughes announced that he was retiring, effective immediately, after 20 years in the WNBA. Quinn becomes the seventh head coach in franchise history and the 19th Black female head coach in WNBA history, an elite club and one in which she is honored to be a member. “I am extremely proud of the fact that I am mentioned in the same breath as 19 powerful trailblazers,” says Quinn. “As a Black woman, I understand that being a head coach in the WNBA is an opportunity that does not come around often, so every day I strive to be the best version of myself. My hope is that I can impact the lives of those I encounter, including my team, staff, organization, and community. I want to leave a positive legacy that is not solely based on wins and losses, but focused on my commitment to uplift, motivate, and empower. I do not take this opportunity for granted.”

At Bishop Montgomery, Quinn was a highly-decorated student-athlete, winning CIF and state titles in both basketball and volleyball, earning a trophy case full of awards, and maintaining a GPA over 4.0 throughout high school. Her success continued at UCLA and in a 12-year professional career that culminated in 2018 with a WNBA title with the Storm. Throughout her playing days, she always exhibited leadership qualities and there is no doubt that they contributed to her being ultra-successful as a player. It is no surprise, then, that she has transferred those qualities to coaching basketball at the highest level of the sport. “As a leader, Coach Quinn exudes authenticity and excellence,” says Kayla Padilla ’19, one of the top players on Bishop’s 2016-17 CIF championship team in Quinn’s first year as coach and a current player at the University of Pennsylvania. “She does not have to be anything more or anything less than herself to lead a team to success because she inherently and effortlessly embodies greatness and humility in everything she does.”

For those who know Quinn, that humility is evident in everything she does. She often deflects any individual praise and instead focuses on team accomplishments, whether it was as a player, or now as a coach. Quinn is humble and has a calm disposition, but she is also an intense competitor who strives to teach her players about winning in basketball and in life. “I think having that balance and that she is always focusing on the big picture is what makes her a great coach, a great teacher and a great leader,” says Andy Marafino, BMHS’ Director of Advancement. 

Padilla, who is third in career scoring at BMHS behind only Quinn and Nykia Peace ‘04, counts Quinn as a mentor and a leader who she continues to lean on for support. “Though there are many, one of the leadership qualities that stood out to me while she coached me at Bishop was her perspective on basketball’s application to life and beyond,” she says. “It was never just about wins or losses to her; it was about the lessons that came from each and how you apply that not only to yourself as a basketball player, but more so as a human being.”

Being named head coach of one of the top teams in the world was a change in title for Quinn and places her at the top of her craft, but it has not changed her as a person. She still values hard work, family, friends, and treating people the right way, all principles she credits Bishop Montgomery with helping to cultivate during her time as a student. “Bishop’s environment taught me so much about discipline, setting and attaining goals, fighting through adversity, and relying on your community and circle for support,” says Quinn. “Most importantly, my solid faith foundation was nurtured and cultivated daily. I learned the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect, and what it means to lead and love as Christ did. To this day, I always lean on my faith in God to get me through everything.”