For Haymarket’s Daniel Quintana, It’s All About Baseball
At first meeting, Daniel Quintana appears like most other 16-year-old boys, although perhaps a bit taller than average. The 2021 future grad, standing at 6’ 3” and 180 pounds, is poised to attain a successful high-school career as a pitcher and the chance to compete in college if his commitment and focus perseveres. A self-admitted inordinately competitive person, Quintana thrives on the pressure of winning – whether that be in sports or any other area of life.
“Every player’s ultimate goal is to make it to the majors,” says Daniel, but his focus right now is to be the best teammate and contributor to his team.
The most recent honor to add to his accomplishments is being chosen to compete in the 2019 Under Armour All-American Pre-season Tournament, an event conducted by Baseball Factory. In January, Quintana traveled to Mesa, Arizona to compete with 400 of the most talented players nationally and quite possibly be scouted by Major League Baseball.
But when you dig deeper, Quintana reveals a different side to his personality. He has an understanding of life beyond his years and a self-awareness that is hard to find in teenagers, especially boys. His mom Colleen says that Daniel has always been an old soul.
“He is caring, kind, thoughtful, looks out for others, is friends with everyone he comes across…something very special.” And these characteristics carry over into how he approaches sports. “No matter what team Daniel has been on or if he met his teammates that day or has known them for years, you can hear Daniel in the dugout talking every one of his teammates up and cheering them on. While Daniel trains hard on his individual game and himself, he is a true team player on the field and on the sidelines,” says Colleen.
Even when life became complicated, “baseball was always a constant” says Quintana who has played the sport since he was 2 years old. The family moved to the Haymarket community when Daniel was 5 after spending time in Texas and Florida, where he was born. Both of these warm-weather states are “powerhouses for baseball” but Daniel affirms that if you truly want to pursue the sport, you seek out opportunities wherever you are.As the Quintanas began to pursue these opportunities to hone Daniel’s talent, there were times when his interest may have waned. “As a mom, I feel as though we might feel and see our children getting burned out or needing a day off to regroup, rest or play with the neighborhood kids once in a while. Allow your child to have this time every so often,” says Colleen. When asked the key to this balance, Daniel’s dad Phil says, “Your children will tell you; you just have to listen.” He also recommends families find coaches that allow the sport to still be fun so that the kids’ enjoyment isn’t hindered by the heat of competition.
Although Daniel attended public school for years, the Quintana family made the decision for Daniel to travel a different road for high school. This choice requires quite a bit of sacrifice but the family hasn’t questioned it. Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax provides Daniel a more intimate setting to learn as well as the competitive athletic and academic environment in which he thrives. Everyone – friends, family, neighbors – is involved with helping keep the Quintana family running smoothly. “Haymarket is like that,” Phil says. “I definitely feel that people here genuinely care about each other.”
A typical winter weekend might find Quintana traveling to R&D Baseball Academy for Saturday morning training sessions followed by volunteering at a baseball clinic. On Sundays he attends a Paul VI Catholic High School workout in the morning, then more training at R&D Academy in the afternoon. His weekdays include four workouts at Paul VI which total about seven to eight hours a week; and three to four training sessions at R&D Academy totaling seven to 10 hours a week.
It would be a rigorous schedule for most, let alone a teenager with schoolwork and a social life. But the fact that Quintana approaches his difficult schedule without much lamenting shows how deep his passion for the sport runs. When asked which position is his stand out favorite, Daniel speaks to his affinity for pitching. “The pressure is a good thing” he says, “you can’t let it scare you.” Daniel is not just a pitcher though; he has a favorite part of playing every infield position… except catcher.
Baseball though, is more than an outlet for Daniel’s athletic talent. It has given him a core group of friends; some of them he has played with since the age of 8. “All my best friends came through sports,” says Daniel, who realizes that friends can also be your biggest competitors. “You push each other to be better and it’s a great thing,” he says.
Quintana admits his road to success hasn’t been without stumbles. “How you learn from your mistakes can define you,” he says, referring to a particular experience he says truly taught him how to make the decision between right and wrong. “The point is not to forget and keep moving forward.”
Terrific words of wisdom for other teens, from a young man whose future is certain to shine bright on – and off – the pitcher’s mound.