Patrick Stevens

Quinzani’s decision to stick with the Blue Devils has proven to be a wise one

by Patrick Stevens May 24, 2010 in Lacrosse


Four years ago, the future of the Duke lacrosse program was in flux. Its season was suspended and most of its recruiting class scattered to other high-profile schools in the sport.

Max Quinzani stuck with his commitment. And now, on the eve of his final NCAA tournament, the senior attackman is one of the more prominent players in his sport and a crucial element for the Blue Devils behind the scenes.

“When you hear Max’s name for us, the first thing you think about is that Max came here not knowing whether there was going to be a program or not,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “There’s a certain amount of faith attached to him. Faith in the place, faith in teammates. There’s some intrinsic quality that he possesses that’s pretty rare.”

Certainly, his on-field accomplishments are obvious for Duke, which reached its fourth straight final four with a rout of North Carolina last weekend. Quinzani enters Saturday’s semifinal against Virginia with 64 goals and 13 assists, and has a chance to break Zack Greer’s school scoring record of 67 goals established three years ago
in his final weekend as a Blue Devil.

Yet his personality and leadership make just as significant an impact. A nominee for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Quinzani’s upbeat attitude helped the Blue Devils shake off a 2-3 start and re-emerge as a national title contender.

“Being a captain, I found my niches trying to make everyone positive, trying to inject some life every day, keeping things lively and fun, not trying to harp on people’s weaknesses and just making sure everyone enjoys every day they have a stick in their hands,” Quinzani said. “The more smiles the better. We [were] on nine-game winning streak, and I think it has to do with how we were loose.”

Quinzani is a solid model for the Blue Devils for his off-field work as well. The senior, who will complete his history degree this month, carried a 3.63 grade point average into his final semester. He also has a post-graduation job in New York lined up.

While at Duke, he did volunteer work in the Durham, N.C., community and also helped raised more than $1,000 for earthquake victims in Haiti earlier this year.

The Blue Devils have also benefitted from his desire to perfect a potent offense and push through for the program’s first national title. It’s also the last year Duke has two sets of senior classes, since an NCAA ruling three years ago restored a year of eligibility to players who lost much of the 2006 season when the school suspended its program.

That was awkward at times for the Blue Devils the last couple seasons, but Quinzani ensured it wouldn’t be a problem this spring.

“If our stick skills aren’t sharp, he’ll demand guys stay after practice or come out early the next day,” Danowski said. “He’ll do that himself, but he’ll also demand it of other guys. He’s been terrific.”

And there was almost never any doubt he’d make a difference. While so many others looked elsewhere, Quinzani was determined to stay. He quickly became a major element for the Blue Devils, and his ability to look after younger teammates in recent years made him more important to the program’s success.

“The reasons I picked Duke are the same reasons I love Duke right now,” Quinzani said. “My best friends are here.”

When the season concludes, Danowski will miss the passion, personality and leadership Quinzani has imbued the Blue Devils with the last few years.

All were developed in some way during a college career that could easily have unfolded elsewhere. Instead, Quinzani set up many of his highlight-reel on-field moves with a decision off it that will carry on for the rest of his life.

“I’m just having fun and I’m happy where I am,” Quinzani said. “It made me a better person. And to help Duke and do all that’s gone on since I’ve been here, it has come back to me tenfold since I’ve been here. It’s been an awesome experience.”