A Sagehens basketball champion keeps her love for the sport alive by coaching her former team and designing team culture workshops at the Hive.
Claremont, Calif. (July 20, 2023)—Madison Quan ’22 can boast many firsts. She became the first in her family to graduate from college and the first to graduate from grad school. She earned the first SCIAC Player of the Year title in Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball history. She joined the first SCIAC women’s basketball team to play internationally against pro teams.
“That’s an opportunity of a lifetime that I never thought I’d be a part of,” said Quan.“The men do it every year, but this is the first time the women went overseas.”
Quan had just returned from playing in Spain when she sat down to talk about basketball’s influence on her as a student-athlete and an incoming assistant coach for Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball.
Finding belonging in basketball
“Basketball is my safe space and outlet,” said Quan, who was the team captain. “I use it to work on myself and my leadership. A lot of my best friends came from basketball—for an only child like me, it was like having sisters.”
After missing one year to Covid as a Pitzer undergraduate, Quan returned to the Sagehens as a Claremont Graduate University student to complete four years of playing at the collegiate level. She was able to keep playing for Pomona-Pitzer while attending CGU because it is part of The Claremont Colleges.
She ended her career sixth in all-time points, the all-time leader in three-pointers, and third in career steals in program history. She also broke the single-game points record and set the single-game steals record. SCIAC Offensive Player of the Year was the cherry on top.
Quan has made her third comeback to the Sagehens as “Coach Q.”
“I wanted to give back to women’s sports,” said Quan. “I understand my former teammates from playing with them, which makes me a better coach.”
Quan appreciates Sagehen Athletics for the camaraderie as soon as she walks into the Center for Athletics, Recreation, and Wellness. From the other athletes to the front desk workers, the community embraced Quan.
“You can feel welcomed into a space, but it’s more important to belong in a space,” said Quan.
Quan is also a post-baccalaureate design associate at The Claremont Colleges’ Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (the Hive). She is hosting skill shares and workshops for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer teams to help define their team cultures.
“I love working among people who are passionate about sports like me,” said Quan. “Everything has come together: my love for design, basketball, and athletics.”
Quan’s dream job is to design sports arenas. As a female athlete who dealt with limited resources, she would love “to create the best possible place to play.”
Learning outside the box
When Quan arrived at Pitzer in 2018, she was fascinated with architecture and environmental design. Her double major in environmental analysis and organizational studies expanded her worldview through interdisciplinary learning. This was a boon for Quan as a non-traditional learner.
“My professors would say, ‘Let’s take class outside, explore nature, and write about it,’” said Quan. “I loved that every single day I didn’t know what we’d be doing. It opened different ways I could continue learning besides reading and writing on a computer.”
CGU later enabled Quan to build her organizational studies knowledge and explore sports marketing through a master’s degree in business administration and management. The Claremont Colleges have been a close-knit community for Quan, as well as a rare opportunity to have access to seven schools while being a part of one.
“I could make it a smaller experience in my small school or venture out for a bigger experience,” she said.
What Quan appreciated the most about Pitzer was the free range to explore. Professor Barbara Junisbai, Quan’s organizational studies adviser, helped her to branch outside of one major even as a student-athlete.
“It’s not something you get at other schools,” said Quan. “I had people like Barbara help me calculate how my studies would play out for the next four years. She showed me it was possible, although it was a challenge.”
Throughout her life, Quan’s goal is to make her mother proud.
“She pushed me to be who I am today,” said Quan. “She didn’t get to go to college, and I know the sacrifices she made to make my life what it is. She’s my hero and my mentor.”