By Rachel Buttner
When Tess Quinlan was eight years old, she knew she would pursue a sports journalism career. A rising junior at Marquette University, Tess grew up playing softball, soccer and basketball in a sports-oriented family. It was on a trip with her dad, Joseph Quinlan, director of athletics at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey, to the CBS broadcasting studios in New York City that sparked her future ambitions.
“I’ll never forget the half-time segment and coming into the green room and being floored that this woman [sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein] I saw on TV was just in the same room as me,” recalls Tess, a Montclair, N.J., native. “I decided that this was what I wanted to do.”
Tess, who won a 2010 New York Women in Communications Foundation Scholarship, is the 2012 winner of the New York Women in Communications Alumna Award of Excellence. “I’m absolutely floored. It’s a lot to live up to, and I’m incredibly humbled,” she exclaimed during a phone conversation from Marquette University.
She’s quickly living up to the honor. A broadcast and electronic communication major, Tess was the Marquette University Television (MUTV) sports director for 2011-2012 — the first female sports director in MUTV history. She’s covered everything from women’s volleyball to men’s and women’s soccer and men’s basketball. She also co-hosts “East Coast Bias,” a female-produced and –broadcasted sports talk radio show for Marquette University Radio.
Last August, she invited Sports Illustrated senior writer and award-winning journalist Peter King to Marquette for a Q&A and panel discussion, which she moderated. King was Quinlan’s coach for the girls’ softball team, the Montclair Bears.
In January, she interviewed Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade — and former player at Marquette — when he stopped by Marquette to watch a men’s basketball against Seton Hall in January. “It was a lot of fun,” remembers Tess. “Within 24 hours, the video got over 1,000 hits [on YouTube].”
Growing up in a sporty family, Tess knew of many female sports broadcasters. She is interested in collegiate athletics since “it’s the most fun to report on because people are really invested.”
But overall, “it’s all about reporting or anchoring,” she said. “On-air reporting, from Bangor, Maine, to San Jose, California. That’s the ultimate goal.”
While interacting with sports celebrities is often part of the job, Tess recognizes the responsibilities of being a broadcaster. “People rely on us to get the information and relay it to them in a way that they will understand. Sometimes these people are police officers, firefighters, or members of the military and use sports as an escape. As a broadcaster, you want to make their time away from the stresses of life as relaxing as possible and keep them entertained,” she said.
And this summer Tess is part of one of the world’s most entertaining sporting events: the Summer Olympics. She will be in London in the coming weeks working as a production assistant intern for NBC Sports and is “ecstatic about the incredible opportunity.”