Quigley Remembered for Selfless, Energetic Attitude
Something inspirational occurred in the face of tragedy this week: Everyone that knew Kristie Quigley started acting like her.
There's been an outpouring of support for the family of the Seton Hill women's lacrosse coach, who died after the team's bus crashed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Saturday morning. Teams across the country honored her memory with on-field tributes and, as of Thursday morning, a scholarship fund set up for Quigley's young son Gavin had raised $50,206.
It's the kind of selfless initiative that Quigley once spearheaded herself.
When Mason Goff, the infant son of a family friend, passed away from a heart defect in 2011, Quigley started a fundraiser through the same Go Fund Me website currently hosting Gavin's fundraiser. Quigley posted daily messages thanking donors for their support and passing on words of encouragement to the family. The effort raised more than $10,000 to help pay for expenses incurred by the Goffs in their time of need.
When Liz Goff learned of the accident that took the life of Quigley, 30, her unborn son and bus driver Anthony Guaetta, she made an effort to repay the gracious gift Quigley had bestowed upon her family.
"My first instinct was to do what she'd done for us," Goff said. "I never thought it would become what it's become. I'm so grateful. It's really a testament to the person she was."
Goff is a childhood friend of Kristie's husband Glenn, and had known Kristie only for a few years when Mason was born. But to Quigley it didn't matter how long she knew someone. If a friend was in need, she would go the extra mile.
"She said, 'You've been such a part of Glenn's life, I couldn't not do something for you,'" Goff said. "I was flabbergasted. She could have done something as simple as bringing a dinner to my family."
It was par for the course for a woman remembered as having the "biggest heart" friends had ever known. When the Quigleys were married five years ago they asked that all cash gifts be donated to charity instead.
"It's the people that they are," Goff said. "They worked hard for what they had and they were happy with everything they have."
That happiness was evident to anyone who spoke with Quigley. Those who knew her recalled a genuine person, with an infectious smile, who constantly put others before herself.
"Honestly you could hear her smiling through the phone on scouting reports," said Mia Hall, coach of the Millersville women's team that was supposed to play Seton Hill on Saturday. "Every time I saw her she was beaming."
"She always had a smile on her face," said Duquesne coach Mike Scerbo, who had Quigley, a former Dukes player, as an assistant coach in 2007. "She was passionate about life and passionate about her family and lacrosse and coaching. She was very approachable and would welcome you with a big hug."
Quigley's lacrosse teams were an extension of her family. And family meant everything to her.
"There was never a conversation when she didn't ask me about my wife and son," Scerbo said. "She'd share stores with me about Glenn and Gavin. She was a great coach and really passionate about her career and her team, but the first thing was always her family."
To donate to the fund set up for Kristina Quigley's family visit: gofundme.com/2bt9g4
11 a.m. Friday
Donations may be made to St. Andrew Catholic School or St. Andrew Catholic Church
Quigley, then Kristie Trionfo, graduated from Dundalk (Md.) High in Baltimore and played at Duquesne under coach Kim Eldridge in 2002 and 2003. Four years later, she returned to her alma mater to work as a volunteer assistant under Scerbo, who said she put in more time and effort than many paid coaches would have.
"She just came into my office and introduced herself," Scerbo said. "Maybe a half hour into the conversation I realized this was a young lady that was really passionate about lacrosse and had a genuine desire. She did everything we asked of her and then some. She constantly brought new ideas in."
Quigley's lacrosse road then led to Erskine, in Due West, S.C., where she took on one of the game's toughest tasks: building a lacrosse program from scratch in an area where the game was virtually nonexistent. She faced that challenge with typical enthusiasm.
"I think we interviewed three people, and it wasn't close because of how energetic she was and how bad she wanted it," Erskine athletic director Mark Peeler said. "She was idealistic and fired up about it."
Times were tough. Erskine didn't win a game in Quigley's first two seasons, but she pushed through. Quigley loved her team. Erskine players often would babysit Gavin, who was in a new state hundreds of miles from home. Quigley was wary to ask her players to watch him for fear of abusing her position.
"She loved them like sisters," Goff said. "Every single one of them was like family. That's how she was with everyone she met. She always had a smile on her face."
After three years at Erskine, Quigley returned to western Pennsylvania to take over the program at Seton Hill.
"She was on her way to being a Division I coach," Peeler said. "She had the knowledge and the passion."
Reports from Sunday's memorial service at Seton Hill told of a tiny chapel filled to capacity. Friday's funeral Friday at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Baltimore might draw an even bigger crowd. Seton Hill is making transportation arrangements to send students. Erskine rescheduled its game against Limestone, and its entire team will be in attendance. Peeler said many coaches at the school also plan to make the nearly 600-mile trip.
It is a continuation of a massive memorial that has occurred across the country this week. On the field, moments of silences have been observed by girls wearing crimson and gold ribbons in their hair, with messages of support scrawled on their shoes, legs and arms. Millersville is selling crimson and gold wristbands with the phrase "onelaxfamily" and the initials "KQ" embroidered onto them. The money will go to Gavin's scholarship fund.
Amidst the outpouring of support, a message from Quigley's parents appeared on the fundraiser website Wednesday.
"Words cannot begin to describe how touched we are by the outpouring of graciousness and heartfelt warmth from all that have found it in their hearts to support Gavin and Glenn," the message said. "In our time of pain and suffering, you have all given us some peace and solitude knowing how much our daughter was loved and respected. She spent her shortened life reaching out to all that she possibly could and our only hope is that her message continues through as many people as possible."
That message to which the Trionfos refer has nothing to do with the tragic way their daughter left the world and everything with the way Quigley lived: selflessly, with a smile on her face and family in her heart.