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Streetsboro boy places 7th in Mid-American Oireachtas Irish Dance Competition

by Bob Gaetjens | editor Published: December 5, 2012 12:00 AM

Streetsboro -- 13-year-old Nolan Quinn enjoys football and basketball, and he loves baseball, but none of those sports compare with his love of and skill in Irish dancing.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Nolan competed in the Mid-American Oireachtas in Grand Rapids, Mich., placing seventh in his age division against some of best Irish dancers in the midwest, according to event's website.

The midwest competition is one of a couple stepping stones on the way to Nolan's ultimate goal -- qualifying for and placing well in the worldwide competition in London in 2014.

"My goal is to get to the 2014 worlds," he said. "That's probably my ultimate goal, to be on the podium at worlds."

He said his finish at Oireachtas is a sign he's on the right track. He beat some competitors he said had qualified for worlds the previous year.

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Nolan, who's been Irish dancing since age 4, has been balancing his dance rehearsal schedule -- two hours at home each week, along with two hour-and-a-half long practices at a studio about a half hour away -- with his other sports.

"He's a hard worker, determined and very dedicated, and it's paid off," said Shannon Quinn, his mother. "He does give up a lot of things for it."

While he hasn't given up any of his three other sports activities yet, he said he's prepared to drop football and basketball, if necessary, to achieve his goal.

"If I missed baseball for it, I'd be devastated," he said.

Nolan said his dance skills have occasionally come in handy in other sports, too. In one football game, he said his dance instincts took over, and he was able elude opposing team members in some surprising ways.

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"When I was in fifth-grade in a football championship game, I scored a touchdown," he said. "Some of the moves I used, [my grandfather] said he'd never seen before."

Nolan said preparing for a national competition this summer is his next priority.

Irish dancing runs in Nolan's family. His mother, Shannon, danced as a little girl and has danced as an adult, as well.

"He's more dedicated than I ever was," said Shannon. "I'm very, very proud of him. I don't know how he does it."

Sometimes, the family has to make sacrifices, too, making sure Nolan gets to rehearsals and that there's enough money to help pay for lessons. The house occasionally makes sacrifices, as well.

"He dented the wall over there," said Shannon, who also tried to encourage a short rather than extended demonstration of skills on the wood floor of the kitchen on Nov. 30 during an interview with the Streetsboro Gateway News.

Nolan said he became passionate about Irish dance after seeing his mother compete following the birth of his brother, Colin, who also has danced.

In addition to performing regularly in competitions, Shannon said Nolan dances at events around the holidays, as well.

"The biggest one is St. Patty's," she said, but he also entertains at Christmas, Easter and other holidays in all sorts of venues, including schools, homes, dinner dances at community halls, during weddings and at bars, including Doogan's in Aurora and the Willoughby Brewing Co.

But Nolan said he prefers competing.

"Shows are OK," he said. "It's not my favorite part of dancing, but I do like going and dancing for people. My favorite part [of dancing] is being able to up on the stage to compete. I don't take losing as an answer."

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