Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Young Komets enthusiast scores historic broadcast win

Fort Wayne native Fiona Quinn, by her own admission has been hooked on hockey since a very young age.

Now a freshman at Indiana Tech pursuing a career in sports management, her passion for the sport continues to gain momentum as she delves into all aspects of the game at high school, college and professional levels.

And after working her way up from Komet Hockey statistician to home game analyst in the radio booth in 2023, a twist of fate on an away-game night in late December caused the 19-year-old Quinn to become the first woman in the franchise’s 72-year history to call a game.

Here WBOI’s Julia Meek discusses the impact that unexpected "slapshot" made on Quinn's world and how her dedication to the sport is shaping her journey.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Julia Meek: Fionna Quinn, welcome.

 Fiona Quinn: Thank you for having me.

Julia Meek: Now it seems you have a passion for that puck, or should I say biscuit from a very, very early age? Where did it all begin and when did you absolutely know you were hooked?

Fiona Quinn: I think it began when I was five or six, our family would come to Komets games. And I remember being more interested in Icy D. Eagle, the mascot than the actual play.

But as I started to get older, I was just fascinated with how fast the game was-- the pace, the movement, the hits, and I think around maybe late middle school, early high school, I knew that I wanted to be in hockey for the rest of what I could do. 

Julia Meek: What do you remember most about your first in-person, Komets or whatever pro game it was?

Fiona Quinn: Yeah, so it was a Komets game and it was back before we had the new scoreboard. I just remember, I was so fascinated with Icy D. Eagle and not necessarily the play.

And I wanted to see the eagle and I wanted to, you know, run around or just have fun. So as I got older, I was more focused on the play and what was happening.

But I just remember, I was introduced to the game via the mascot. And I think that's how a lot of kids these days are getting into it.

Julia Meek: That's what a mascot is for.

 Fiona Quinn: Exactly.

Julia Meek: The fans of all ages. And okay, watching versus really immersing yourself in it and eventually officiating, which you are now, how did it further your ambitions or secret desires? Just the watching it, did you know that you wanted to be more than just an observer? Did it change your perspective?

Fiona Quinn: Absolutely. I think coming into it as a fan, you're not necessarily seeing all of the nuances of the game. And sometimes you just focus more on the puck than you are what's behind the play, or the goaltender or what shifts are coming out on the ice.

So it was different, definitely a step back from just watching it and observing and celebrating a goal to nitpicking the plays themselves and the power play in the penalty kill.

And I knew that there was a whole lot more to the game than the 60 minutes out on the ice. So I wanted to uncover some of that and help prolong the game.

 Julia Meek: And the depth of the game to you personally, it sounds like as well.

Fiona Quinn: Oh yeah! I remember there was definitely a difference in just watching a game and then being done with it versus watching a game and then spending hours at my computer trying to get stats and trying to uncover and see what trends were happening and what the future of the Komets could look like or what the future of any hockey team could look like.

Julia Meek: Is it safe to say we are seeing an obsession as well as a passion going on here? (chuckles)

Fiona Quinn: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

 Julia Meek: So Fort Wayne loves the sport and its Komets. You had worked three years behind the scenes before that, well immersed yourself in the whole game top to bottom as a statistician.

Now this winter, you joined the Komets radio booth as an analyst on home games. Did you actually dare dream of calling a game at that point? Had it entered your head yet?

Fiona Quinn: I think it had just briefly kind of like a dream. But I was so focused on honing my color commentary skills and trying to analyze the game in a way that wasn't heard on Komets broadcasts before.

So I dreamt of it a little bit. But I didn't focus, I didn't daydream too hard. I just wanted to stay in the moment and keep doing what I was doing.

Julia Meek: Well then how were you able to hone those skills that you really needed to jump in and call a game beyond Zen and channeling and anything else new age that might work?

Fiona Quinn: So I do broadcasting on (AM) 1380 for high school hockey games here in Fort Wayne, and that has been an insurmountable help in making sure that I'm up to speed.

The speed of the high school game is a lot different than the speed of a Komet's game. But I was able to practice just broadcasting and getting into the flow of it.
A lot of commentating skills are you have to work on them and you have to keep practicing otherwise you won't grow. So doing high school games has been a huge a huge help.

 Julia Meek: And as a matter of fact, how did you get into the business of doing the high school games? You are a Wayne New Tech graduate, was that directly responsible or at least perhaps for the motivation to do something in broadcast?

Fiona Quinn: A little bit. We had a student at Wayne who actually played for the Homestead hockey team. So I knew that high school hockey was available.

Wayne doesn't have a team and I don't think Wayne ever had a team. But knowing that Wayne students could have done something with hockey, at least in our area has been huge.

But Josh Williams at (AM) 1380, He invited me to help him do high school hockey and he's the one who's essentially started this whole career and I can't be more grateful.

Julia Meek: It sounds like he could not either, that you were there to accept his invitation and take this call. You certainly should be proud of that.

Fiona Quinn: Thank you. Yeah, I'm so grateful for Josh as well. And then, just everyone at the Komets, Shane Albahrani, you know,

I've said to other people before, if Shane didn't think I could call this game and I could call the game on the road, he wouldn't have led me and Scott Sproat and David Franke.

Also to come in and propose the idea of me calling a game, I can't thank them enough.

Julia Meek: Again, it seems like the feeling's mutual. And in full disclosure, you were there minding your own business when there really was an illness and a road game, if we understand correctly, and then all of a sudden, you were the one?

Fiona Quinn: Yeah. So it transpired we had a Wednesday night game and Shane said he could do it, he could do it fine. And when he started to sound sick and the Wednesday broadcast was, I think, on the road, and it was okay.

Friday night, I did the broadcast with Josh Williams and Fred Bean. Shane wasn't there he was sick. But he kept telling us, he was like, Oh, I'll be fine for tomorrow down in Indy. He was not fine for tomorrow down in Indy!

So that Saturday morning, I had got the call that I'm coming to the Coliseum at two and we're heading down to Indy for the game at 7:30.

Julia Meek: Did you have time to be nervous?

 Fiona Quinn: So my mom had woke me up because I like to sleep in. So my mom woke me up at seven and said check your phone. And I had like seven missed calls from Shane.

And so I think right after that phone call of hey, you're doing this, come to the Coliseum, I'll see you at two, like the rest of my morning getting ready was all nerves.

And it was all, oh my gosh, this is actually happening. (chuckling) You're heading down to're heading down to Indy. You're going on the bus with the team. Like then was the time to not be anxious, but to have all those nervous jitters.

So there was time to process it. But I didn't let myself fully process it until the bus ride home after the game.

 Julia Meek: That's always a good time.

Fiona Quinn: Yeah.

Julia Meek: And in the meantime, were you surprising yourself how little you actually freaked out?

Fiona Quinn: Yeah for sure. I was anticipating like, in hindsight, I would have thought that I would have freaked out a lot more because it is such a big deal.

I'm kind of proud of myself with how, how I rose to the challenge and how I was level headed, or at least as level headed as I could have been. So it was nice to know that I wasn't a mess. 

Julia Meek: You wouldn't have been asked to do this if you couldn't, of course. 

Fiona Quinn: Yes! Yeah, absolutely. 

Julia Meek: You know that. That's a wonderful affirmation to have about yourself. In the meantime, do you think it made a difference to your being more or less nervous because it was in Indy, and not here?

 Fiona Quinn: Yeah, it was the first time I had gone to a road game with the team. So I got to go on the bus with the team. And I was looking forward to that for a long time.

 Julia Meek: Before you knew that you were going to be announcing? (chuckles)

 Fiona Quinn: Yes, yeah. So I got to go down with the team. It was only my third road game overall, or maybe fourth road game overall.

Statistician at work, gameday
Courtesy/Fiona Quinn
Statistician at work, gameday

But it was a little more nerve wracking because we had to go down to Indy, and it wasn't at the Coliseum.

 Julia Meek: But nobody down there knew you and everybody up here knew you. The anonymity help a little bit?

Fiona Quinn: A little bit. It was kind of funny. The Komets had made a big post about it. And there was an Indy fan, he had the post up on his phone, and he was kind of like looking up at Shane and I and he went, This you? (chuckles)

And I was like, Yeah, that's me. And he was like, Oh, congrats. So it was kind of funny to just see Indy fans' reaction and Komets fans, they were psyched. They were so excited.

That was really fun to see too, just how everyone was responding to it as it was happening. And then once it had happened, I'm so grateful for all of that. 

Julia Meek: And it was done. And you could enjoy it all. And fast forward to that point right now. What's it like being compared to the legendary Bob Chase from back in my days, or current play by play voice, Shane.

Fiona Quinn: I love Shane, and you know I love and honor Bob. It's so cool--Komets fans, they love their history, myself included.

So to be on the same platform as two legends in the business is an honor. And it's so cool to look back in...the Komets have 72 years worth of history.

So to be a part of that is so honoring. And I'm so grateful and I'm so excited about it.

 Julia Meek: The world is for you and what a treat. Now let's listen to a sample of your work:

(Game and crowd noise under some animated play-by-play commentary by Quinn).

I am curious Fiona is "sports-speak" like mastering a foreign language, and that slang, the jargon and all, does it roll off your tongue by now?

Fiona Quinn: Yeah, it sure does. It has been a different language. When I grew up watching hockey interviews and just hearing the language that the players use, I've kind of absorbed it into my vocabulary.

So at least when I'm doing high school hockey, it comes out a lot more. It's part of how I speak now and I've been told I sound a little Canadian. Don't know how that happened. (laughs)

Julia Meek: That's a good thing. (chuckles)

Fiona Quinn: Yeah, it helps. (chuckles)

Julia Meek: We're speaking of the ultimate hockey fan or announcer.

Fiona Quinn: Right! (chuckles)

Julia Meek: Now that it's popular and prevalent, the sport of hockey, in the elementary grades, which is a great thing, everyone welcome, Boys Girls, where is that taking the sport? Where can it go now would you say?

Fiona Quinn: So we've seen the evolution of women's hockey especially in North America has been very up and down recently. But currently we have the PWHL the professional women's hockey league.

And so it's very exciting to see elementary school kids, especially girls say, You know what? I want to play hockey! Or have them come to Indiana Tech women's hockey games.

It's great to see there's more passion for the sport and there's more kids wanting to get involved and more young adults wanting to get involved as well. So the sport is growing not only at the grassroots level, but also at the professional level.

And I'm so excited to watch it continue to grow and hopefully help nourish and cultivate some of that passion.

Julia Meek: It's fantastic, yes, to preserve the sport, as well as the athleticism and the spirit that goes with it. It's a grand thing.

I won't ask you if you have a favorite player anecdote as such, because I hope that you'll always continue to have them. I hope that that passion as well as the professionalism and the fun that you're having never never changes.

But we are curious, is there a Komets moment that will be forever in your heart?

 Fiona Quinn: I have two. The first one is when we won the most recent Kelly Cup and it was my first year working with the team.

It was a whole team effort, a whole community effort. We didn't know we were going to start playing until February and just the rush to get the team ready.

So that joy of winning the Kelly Cup, the first time since the Komets have been in the ECHL. It was so so great. I would cry at restaurants for weeks after because I just, I was so excited.

And I was so emotional about it. I was just so proud.

Julia Meek: So part of it.

Fiona Quinn: Yeah, exactly. It was just such a big moment. And then the other one was, so we had Michael Franke, longtime president of the Fort Wayne Komets, and he was a big part of getting me to where I am, of getting me into the Komets family.

He took a chance and he was excited with what I was doing. So when he passed, it was really hard on everyone in the organization.

And I remember the game where we had honored him, everyone, like the players had little MichaelS patches sewn on their jerseys.

And I just remember I was up in the press box with Shane. And you know, I was crying when we were honoring him. Shane was too but he won't admit it.

Um...and I just remember after the game, the hugs I had gotten from Shane and from the Frankes, it's a family sport, and just the passion that we've all had, and the legacy that Michael had, it was a lot, and I'm so grateful for him. And I miss him.

Julia Meek: Thank you for sharing, what a memory that you have forever. Now we're gonna get back to the here and now. As your patient for all sides of hockey continues to grow where might it take you?

Fiona Quinn: It can take me anywhere, really. Right now I'm working with the Komets. I'm still doing high school hockey, and I'm involved with Indiana Tech's women's hockey team.

That's been so great. It's been so fun. Just working with the team in a social media role, and possibly a commentary role in the future has been lovely. And I love representing women's hockey. A

And I love sharing my passion for women's hockey with not only the athletes, but also the fans and the school as a whole. And that's great. I'm loving what I'm doing with women's hockey and with Indiana Tech specifically.

So I'm hoping to continue that. But as a whole, I'm hoping to just continuing having fun with what I'm doing with the organizations and the teams that I'm working with.

Julia Meek: It sounds like that's probably always going to happen in your life with any luck Fionna. And now that you are in the sports management as your goal at Indiana Tech, how are you managing to fit everything in including that, but besides that?

 Fiona Quinn: It's, it's a lot. It is a full full work week. There's two high school hockey games on Wednesday nights. I don't broadcast the first I broadcast the second but I do game recaps for the both of them, and then Komets games on the weekend.

And I've got a lot of homework. I'm a freshman in college and sometimes I forget that and sometimes other people I'm working with forget it. It's a lot of hard work but they say you never work a day in your life if you're doing what you love or something along those lines, and I genuinely feel that.

Some days are tougher than others, but I'm just living my life in a way that I want to and I'm so grateful for that

Julia Meek: Good for you, good for the rest of the community and certainly good for the cause of professional hockey and in particular Komet hockey for you, Fiona and we do hope to hear more from you.

We suspect we will, at Komet games and beyond, in your local high school and colleges announcing everything as well as you do.

On that note and last question, what would you like to tell everyone right now about the sport, the spirit and the community that loves and supports those Komets?

Fiona Quinn: Thank you all so much for giving me this opportunity, for taking me into your arms and loving me, and loving the team. The passion that the fans have for Komet hockey is so big, and it's so lovely.

I just...Komets fans are amazing, they're the best fans in the league, and for them to extend that to me, and extend that love and passion and attitude towards me is something I'll always be grateful for.

Just being a fan of this team growing up, and being born and raised here in Fort Wayne, it's incredible really and it's, it's an honor so thank you for supporting the Komets, thank you for being at games, and you know, thank you for saying hi to me and supporting me, that's huge. So...let's go Komets!

 Julia Meek: Fiona Quinn is a Komet hockey statistician and media assistant for the team as well as an Indiana Tech student. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your spunk with us, Fiona, do keep up the good work.

 Fiona Quinn: Thank you.

Learn more about the team and its crew at the Komets Hockey website.

A Fort Wayne native, Julia is a radio host, graphic artist, and community volunteer, who has contributed to NIPR both on- and off-air for forty years. Besides being WBOI's arts & culture reporter, she currently co-produces and hosts Folktales and Meet the Music.