Payson Teacher, Coach Retires To Notre Dame Private School

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Jim Quinlan, a longtime teacher and coach at Payson High School, has retired and will accept another teaching/coaching position at Scottsdale Notre Dame High School.

Jim Quinlan, a Rim country teacher and coach for almost two decades, has retired and will be working next year at a high school where the tuition is $7,000-plus, the students wear uniforms and the biggest discipline problem is students not tucking in their shirts.

Last month, prestigious Notre Dame High School in North Scottsdale offered Quinlan a teaching position similar to the one he had at Payson High.

"I accepted. I'll be teaching AP English, senior English and one class of junior English," he said. "I'll also coach the boys and girls swim team and help out in girls basketball."

Under Arizona State Retirement guidelines, teachers can retire and return to the profession if it is at a private or parochial school such as Notre Dame.

Quinlan said he first considered teaching at Notre Dame last spring while watching a girls basketball game there that pitted the Lady Horns against the Saints.

"I was really impressed with the school and the campus," he said.

Quinlan also is a member of the Roman Catholic Church which founded and operates Notre Dame.

Quinlan moved to Payson in 1985 from Casa Grande as a single father of two sons.

"I knew it was time to leave (Casa Grande) and Payson offered me an interview," he said. "Things on campus have really changed since then --bout the only building then was old main."

In addition to his duties as a English teacher, Quinlan coached the freshmen boys basketball team under then-head coach Chuck Hardt.

The following year, he took over the junior varsity program before moving into the head position two seasons later when Hardt resigned.

For nine seasons, Quinlan served as the Longhorn head basketball coach.

Among his fondest memories is of the 1998 state tournament in which the Horns knocked off two-time defending 3A champion Monument Valley to reach the quarterfinals in the Northern Arizona University Skydome.

"Our strength was our juniors -- we had some good ones like Marc Bennett, Jeremy Hoff, Hunter Walden and others," he said.

Quinlan also fondly recalls that team traveling to Coolidge and upsetting the Bears on their home court.

"That was a great win," he said.

Another great memory is of the 1991 team than won the 3A West Division championship and upset Parker on its home floor.

"That team did some amazing things," he said.

He also remembers that through the years, the players always worked hard and were committed."

Quinlan praised former assistant coaches Randy Wilcox and Mike Loutzenheiser for their support over the years, as well as his wife, Barbara, whom he married after moving to Payson.

"Of course my best assistant was my wife Barbara," he added. "She stuck with me through it all."

Pikes founded

In addition to teaching and coaching, Quinlan is the founder of the Payson Pikes swim team. He was the Taylor Pool manager for 17 years and continues to be a Red Cross-certified lifeguard trainer and water safety instructor.

When Quinlan took over as pool manager in 1986, he realized there was a need for a community swim team as there had been at the Casa Grande pool he had worked previously.

He announced during open swim that practices for a new Taylor team would begin the next morning.

"When I opened the pool about six kids showed up," Quinlan said. "After practice, I told them they had to come the next day with at least one friend."

Before the summer was over, the team had swelled to more than 50 members.

At the Pikes' peak, its roster included more than 150 young swimmers.

"The word got out about the team and it became very popular to be on it" he said. "It was a great opportunity for the kids to exercise and in the summer, it got them out of bed early in the morning and into the pool."

Although the Pikes were a recreational team, Quinlan was proud of the lessons he and his staff of lifeguards taught the swimmers.

"We taught them the proper skills of swimming like starts, turns and strokes," he said.

When Quinlan wasn't teaching, coaching or managing the pool, he was busy training Taylor's lifeguards and instructors. He taught almost every guard who has worked at Taylor.

With his retirement, Quinlan is making plans to sell his home and eventually moving to Phoenix or Scottsdale.

His two sons are now on their own. Byron is a teacher in Casa Grande and Britton is a firefighter for the Forest Service.

His daughter, 16-year-old Brianna, will transfer from Payson High to Notre Dame next school year.

In looking back on the past 19 years, Quinlan said he's grateful for the time spent in the Rim country.

"I'll really miss Payson High School and the community," he said. "Both have been a big part of my life."

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