Prep Girls Basketball

Penn carries on tradition of three-sport athletes at QND

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 10, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jun. 10, 2018 12:33 am

QUINCY

Molly Penn felt out of place.

During the summer before her freshman year at Quincy Notre Dame, Penn played with the QND volleyball team in several summer matches and was well aware there were several talented upperclassmen.

So when then-coach Rich Meyer called on her to substitute for junior Riley Hummert -- who developed into The Herald-Whig Player of the Year as a senior -- Penn was dumbfounded.

"I was like, 'What?'" Penn said. "That was unheard of to me. I felt like I wasn't ready.

"I was so nervous and didn't want to make anyone mad. I literally said, 'Sorry,' as I was passing her to sub in for her. Everyone started laughing at me because I was so nervous."

Thrust into the position of being part of QND's rich tradition clearly was intimidating.

"There's a lot of expectations because QND has such a legacy of a lot of great athletes," Penn said. "You definitely want to live up to those standards."

There's no question she did.

Penn capped her senior year by helping QND win a second straight Class 1A soccer state championship as she was part of a defense that set a school record for shutouts with 22.

That came after helping the QND girls basketball regain some of its swagger.

Penn was a starting forward, averaging 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds and shooting 48 percent from the floor. The Raiders won their first regional crown since 2014, and Penn earned first-team all-area honors.

Last fall, as the middle hitter on the volleyball team, Penn earned second-team all-area plaudits as helping the Raiders to a second-place state finish in Class 2A.

And she'll get one more chance to represent QND as she takes part in the 36th annual McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic girls basketball game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Quincy University's Pepsi Arena.

The boys game will follow at 7:15 p.m.

"When I look back on it, I'll think it's a lot more successful than I do now," Penn said. "It still really hasn't hit me yet. I still feel like I can go back next year and win another one. But it's still crazy to think what all we did."

Penn said playing three sports all four years wasn't difficult. She had to be diligent in her training and conditioning. Her busy schedule forced her to stay on top of it.

"Once you're in shape, it's easy to stay in shape," Penn said. "There were times I didn't even really have an offseason in the summer. There would be times I'd have volleyball camp, basketball practice and then soccer workouts at night. It was just a continuous thing and that routine really helped."

The effort turned her into a reliable asset in all three sports.

"I think she started every game but one, and that was because we started a senior on defense on senior night her junior year," QND soccer coach Mark Longo said. "When you have someone that you can plug into the lineup and not worry about them, Molly certainly fit that role."

QND girls basketball coach Eric Orne said Penn was a vocal leader for the Raiders the last two seasons, and that's something the team will miss next season.

He said she also was pivotal in helping QND win a regional.

"After the Carrollton Tournament, her confidence really grew because she was playing as well as she had in her entire career," Orne said. "She came on strong at the end of the year when the games mattered the most."

Penn said the tradition of QND has created helped her accomplish everything she did.

"It made it easy to want to work hard," Penn said. "Everyone around you was doing the same thing."