From Colvert Street to the TIAAA Hall of Fame

Coach Quinn in 35th year with KCS

By Steve Williams

It’s no wonder Marion Quinn grew up to be an athlete in multiple sports, a coach, an athletic director and a Knox County School System athletic director.

His training ground was on Colvert Street in Tuskegee, Ala., in the 1960s.

“Everyone that grew up on my street participated in athletics,” recalled Coach Quinn, who has been inducted into the Tennessee Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Hall of Fame. “We were all competitive. I guess that’s how we got started. On my little street we had 10 that went off to college on athletic scholarships.”

All of them were in high school at the same time, except for a couple who started in high school just a year later.

Quinn said he didn’t think that much about the abundance of talent on his street at that time, but it dawned on him when he got older how “rare and amazing” that was.

“Every evening we were doing something – football or baseball or racing against each other up and down the street, see who could throw the football the longest, who could make the best catch,” he remembered. “You know all that kind of stuff. It was very competitive. Even though I wasn’t that good in basketball, I competed and tried to beat all those guys.”

Quinn became quite an athlete with his top sports being football, track, baseball and swimming.

At Tuskegee Institute High School, he was a starter on the football team and anchored the 4×440-yard relay.

Quinn went to Kentucky State College and was a tailback on the football team and an infielder in baseball before ending up being the Thorobreds’ catcher.

After graduating in 1972, Marion joined the Army Reserve and completed basic training and AIT training as a medic.

He had started life-guarding his junior year in high school and passed a swimming course at Kentucky State. Those experiences led to him filling a graduate position to teach swimming at Eastern Kentucky University, where he earned his master’s degree.

When he came to Knoxville College, he became an assistant professor, head football coach, athletics director and dean of students.

“Initially, I didn’t plan on coaching,” said Quinn. “Sometimes you’re thinking one way, but the Lord leads you into a different path. And this is what I was led to and it’s been rewarding. I care about helping others, especially young people, and so I guess this is my calling.”

In 1989, Quinn started working in the Knox County School system at Vine Middle. He coached football at Austin-East, Rule and Central, then became an assistant principal at Central and was principal at A-E for six years (1998-2004).

In the Knox County Central Office, Quinn worked in Health Wellness and was a physical education supervisor and athletics director.

He retired in 2010, but continues to work part-time.

“I like what I’m doing, mentoring others and helping them advance in their careers,” said Quinn, who was inducted into the Kentucky State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. “As long as I am enjoying it and I can see that I’m helping others I’ll continue.”