Cool Cat: Quinn named state's top AD

BENTON – Benton Panthers athletics had a pretty solid year, to say the least. The football team had its best season since 2005, finishing 6-6 with a playoff victory. The Benton Panthers basketball team followed their best season ever, record-wise, with their second-best season ever and a consecutive state semifinals appearance. The Lady Panthers volleyball team fell in an epic match in the 6A State Championship game, the baseball team had another 20-win season, not to mention the Lady Panther softball team won the 6A State Championship in an instant classic in Fayetteville.
With all that success, Benton Athletic Director Steve Quinn was named the 6A Athletic Director of the Year. But not only is Quinn the 6A classification AD of the year, Quinn was also named the overall Athletic Director of the Year. He will be honored with the award on Thursday at a luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Conway (site of all-star week) at noon.
“Being selected by your peers is what makes it special because those are the people you interact with a lot and they know the type of job you do,” Quinn said. “I think the most obvious thing is all the credit needs to go to our coaches and our athletes. They’re the people who have really made this athletic program successful and handled themselves with a high degree of professionalism. They’re the ones who deserve the credit. I was just lucky enough to get to facilitate their success.”
Benton’s athletic success was definitely a big part of Quinn’s selection, but the Panthers’ success wasn’t the only aspect that was looked at.
“We look at Benton,” Janet Wood, Arkansas Activities Association publicity chairperson started, “it’s usually based on the school, the success their athletic program have, things the athletic director helps implement at school and in Steve’s case there were a lot of facility upgrades; helping organize the Salt Bowl, that’s a success every year. He’s very good to share ideas, he’s a good resource for younger ADs, he’s always willing to help and that kind of stuff.”
Again, Quinn credited others with his honor.
“Softball won a state championship again. We’ve had several state championships, a lot of conference championships. Our coaches have worked very hard. Our athletes, our parents have made sacrifices so that we could be successful. Our administration has really backed us in improving the program, so it’s been a real group effort. I’ve been fortunate enough to sit in a chair and had a really good time.”
Wood explained the voting process for AD of the Year.
“Someone in your classification has to nominate you and Steve was nominated,” Wood started. “Once you’re nominated and put on the ballot, that ballot is voted on at the winter conference (March) in Hot Springs. There 80 to 90 athletic directors that attend that conference and they all get a sheet of paper with the names. The AD out of each classification to get the most votes; Steve got the most votes as the 6A AD. Once an AD is selected out of each classification, those are put on a separate ballot and voted on.”
In Quinn’s case, timing couldn’t be better to be AD of the Year as this past season will be his last as Benton’s AD. Quinn will be the new Benton Middle School principal.
“What do I have, five days,” Quinn asked about his final days as AD. “Then I’ll become Mr. Quinn the middle school principal. That’ll be a little-different sounding. It’s kind of a neat way to go out in your last year. I’m really looking forward to working with the middle school staff and working with students at that level. It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for several years. Stepping in for Sue Shults, who has been phenomenal, is a big challenge. The staff and teachers over there are so good, it just makes it a great place to want to work.”