Off the court Prout girls basketball coach Phil Quinn and his step-daughter Brittany Donovan have gotten along ever since they entered each other’s lives.
“We’re really close,” Donovan says. “He came into my life when I was in eighth grade and he was an amazing coach and it’s going to be really hard next year without them. Off the court he’s an amazing dad so I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
On the court each admit they’ve had their differences.
“As parent-child we don’t really have any issues,” Quinnsays. “As player-coach we’ve had – not issues – but it’s been harder to deal with that part of our relationship than it has as parent child.
“When she was a sophomore and had to ride to and from practice with me it was really hard when I wasn’t the happiest.”
Quinn is not the only one who remembers those car rides back from Prout to their home on Aquidneck Island during Donovan’s sophomore year.
“We didn’t talk much, that’s for sure,” Donovan says. “I usually had my earphones in listening to my music because he was really mad at me or I was really mad at him or he was mad at one of my friends that he really didn’t want to talk about.”
That season Donovan was making the transition from playing junior varsity to varsity, not an easy transition but she thought since her step-father was the coach it would be alright.
“My sophomore year him being my coach it was really fun at first and then he got really hard on me,” Donovan says, “harder than anyone else and it was really hard to deal with.”
Being a 14 or 15-year old kid it can be tough to see why a parent would be harder on you than anyone else but for Quinn the reason was simple; as a coach he saw the potential in one of his players.
“She hasn’t played a lot of basketball. Even with three years of varsity experience she kind of got a late start because when she played in Newport she didn’t play much,” Quinn says. “There wasn’t that foundation of being on the floor and understanding the flow of the game.
“She still has a long way to go but they like her athletic potential and upside just like I did, which was why I made her a guard when she was a sophomore. I saw those flashes of brilliance and she’s still got a long ways to go but she’s getting better.”
The ‘they’ Quinn is referring to is Division III Nichols College, where Donovan will continue her playing career next fall.
As a coach Quinn was hard on Donovan but as a parent – where both agree they rarely clashed – it turned out to be the best thing for her as she now has the opportunity to go to college and compete in athletics.
Together in Donovan’s senior year Prout made an improbable run to the Division II Championship where it lost to Narragansett.
Donovan was a starter for the Crusaders but as far as pure talent goes she was not the team’s best player as she lacks the polish of a Maddie Hagerty.
That doesn’t mean that she wasn’t one of Prout’s most important though.
As a team the Crusaders were far better than they were as individual players and relied on relentless, intense team defense to get to the Ryan Center.
And when it came to intensity the only one more passionate on the court than Quinn himself was Donovan.
“He’s crazy,” she says with a laugh, “but I feel like we need that some of the time.
“That’s what our team needs is our intensity and when one person’s doing it I feel like it leads the team and gets us pumped up.”
It’s something both Donovan and Quinn agree she gets from her mother but it’s hard to deny that a little bit of her step-father doesn’t come out on the court.
“Her mother played at Rogers in the 90s and they’re almost a kind of mirror image of each other,” Quinn says. “She was a super, super athlete and was fiery and intense and that was her greatest strengths and needed to become a little bit better of a basketball player.
“That was Brittany. Brittany’s greatest strengths is that intensity, that athleticism and needs to become more of a basketball player. I think it’s a little bit me but more her mother than her step-father.”
“It’s mostly from my mom,” Donovan says, “but it’s a little bit from Phil too because I see how he acts and I just mirror it.”
For Donovan it was certainly an interesting ride but with her final high school basketball game finished she can see now; those hard practices and games with Quinn were all worth it now.
“I got through it,” Donovan says. “I’m very thankful for how hard he was on me because it was all for the best.”