Taylor McQuillin threw her last pitch for Arizona softball at the Women’s College World Series in 2019. During that WCWS, there was someone close to her celebrating in the dugout. She has moved to the next phase of her life, but that person is still at Arizona, helping the softball program continue writing its history of greatness.
“One of his favorite/iconic pictures of him at Arizona is a picture of him screaming and cheering in the dugout during the World Series when I was pitching against UCLA,” McQuillin said. “He’s been passionate ever since his first year. He is committed and a Wildcat for life.”
That person is Taylor’s younger brother Greg McQuillin, who has been a manager for the Wildcats since his sister’s senior year when legendary coach Mike Candrea still ran the program. Now in his fifth year with Arizona softball and pursuing his master’s degree in business administration, Greg is coaching first base and helping in the bullpen.
“He knew he wanted to go to school where I did and keep it in the family,” Taylor said. “When he saw there was a manager position with the softball team, he reached out to Coach and asked for an interview and had a ton of knowledge from baseball and listening to my instructors and coaches, so Coach was more than happy to bring him aboard. Plus catching bullpens was a plus to have extra help.”
Greg came to Arizona with a background as a catcher. In addition to his own athletic pursuits in baseball, he was helping his sister as she worked towards her dreams in softball.
“I got involved at a young age,” Greg said. “I had to catch a lot of my sister’s bullpens growing up. That was kind of why I became a catcher. My parents weren’t too happy catching on the bucket anymore. So, when I was really young, I started catching my sister and then over the years, I have found a love for it as she was enjoying her sport and her career. So, I got to college and thought why not give it a try?”
When Greg arrived at Arizona, his sister was already an All-Pac-12 and all-region pitcher for the Wildcats. Arizona had an open manager position. It seemed like a natural fit.
While his sister pursues her career as a professional pitcher, Greg is building towards his own future in the sport. His dreams are to become a college coach and, eventually, to run an agency that specializes in representing female athletes.
Greg certainly picked an optimal place to start his own journey. His first three years were spent watching one of the best coaches in the history of the sport ply his trade. Since last year, he has been able to watch the process of second-year head coach Caitlin Lowe and assistants Lauren Lappin and Taryne Mowatt-McKinney putting their own stamps on the program.
It’s not just what happens on the field that’s important to him, though. The things that players can take with them beyond softball are what stay with Greg the most.
“I worked under Coach Candrea, and so I got to learn a lot and just watch all the things that he kind of does at practice and on the field and just listened to a lot of his talks to the players because there’s a lot of little life lessons thrown in there,” Greg said. “And with Cait, I’ve been around her all five years and she’s bought everything that she’s learned from Coach up to this stage. Now she’s a head coach, and just listening to how they talk to the players to prepare them for life, I think is something that I’ve learned a lot about, because I don’t play. So, learning and a lot of the life lessons along the way with the girls from all the coaching staff, including Coach Lap and Coach T. So, I think those are probably my favorite moments.”
His roles in practice and on game day are varied. Lowe said he does a little bit of everything to help prepare the team. He hits in Fungo drills. He catches bullpens, so he spends a lot of time with both the pitchers and the catchers. He said he watches the spin of the various pitches and offers feedback to the pitchers based on the game plan devised by the coaches. As for the catchers, that’s where his heart is.
“Catchers have a special bond,” he said. “I always say that it takes a certain type of person to be back there, and so, we all have a respect for each other. But most of it’s just having fun or asking questions. Seeing if someone else saw something differently from a different side. Or sometimes they’ll stand in as hitters, kind of give a different perspective. And then we just talk about it. You know, ‘What do you think could have been different here?’ Just a lot of bouncing ideas off back and forth and just seeing what they think, too, because getting another perspective, I think, is very helpful.”
Greg has a bigger role on game days this year since Arizona does not have a volunteer assistant coach. Since Lappin coaches third base and both Lowe and Mowatt-McKinney are in the dugout during Arizona’s at-bats, he has taken on the role of first base coach this season. It fits with his role as “hype man,” in his sister’s words.
“I think he’s their biggest cheerleader, as much as he doesn’t want to say that,” Lowe said. “I watched Allie Skaggs’ grand slam [at ASU] on replay and…we’re both laughing at…his reaction at first base because he was like fist pump and a little dance…He just feels the energy that the team is going through. He eventually wants to go off and coach one day, and I think he’s going to be great at it.”
College coaching is certainly one of his goals. With the bachelor’s degree in communications that he’s already completed and the master’s in business administration that he’s working on, his longer-term goals involve helping professional female athletes get the most out of their careers.
“I want to grow women’s sports to be more marketable,” Greg said. “And profitability. I’m trying to sustain them for long term. So, I want to kind of create my own sports agency as I get older, representing the female athletes to make them more profitable and grow their brands.”
For Taylor, it’s exciting to see her brother develop a path that runs alongside hers but is distinctly his own.
“I think that he has used his own resources and ability to pave his own path apart from me and my success and that’s what makes it so great,” she said. “He gets firsthand what I am experiencing currently on a professional and international level post-college, and it has allowed him to get the wheels turning in his head about how much more he could do for female athletes in the future.”
It also makes her feel even more satisfied with the choices she’s made in her own life.
“I absolutely love that Greg is a part of something that I am super passionate about and have dedicated my whole life to,” Taylor said. “It proves to me that I have made the right decisions and that my time and effort wasn’t wasted or just about me. It’s awesome to know that the people in my life and someone who is so close to me also cares about growing the game and futures for female athletes like I do.”