Baltimore Sun

Truly like father, like daughter

Quaranta carving out own soccer career at Loyola Maryland

- By Edward Lee

At the peak of his soccer career, Santino Quaranta was a member of the U.S. national team and three Major League Soccer franchises, exchanging jerseys with some of the sport’s giants such as Los Angeles Galaxy teammate David Beckham and being interrupte­d by autograph seekers during meals at restaurant­s.

And absorbing it all was Olivia Quaranta, who as an adolescent viewed her father through a slightly different lens.

“When I was in elementary school at the time, a lot of my classmates were like, ‘Oh my God, your dad is so famous. That’s so cool.’ And I was like, ‘No, he’s not. What are you talking about?’ ” Olivia, 19, recalled with a laugh. “I knew that he was a famous soccer player, but it was never a huge deal in my life.”

Santino Quaranta, who turns 38 next month, confirmed his daughter’s account.

“She just thought, ‘It’s whatever,’ you know?” he said. “There’s other kids that would be like, ‘Oh my God,’ but that’s why our relationsh­ip was always so real.”

Like father, like daughter. A decade after

Santino Quaranta played his last game as a profession­al, Olivia Quaranta is forging her own career with the Loyola Maryland women’s program. In two seasons, the sophomore midfielder has started 18 of 26 games and leads the Greyhounds (3-3-2) this fall in assists with three.

Despite Quaranta’s youth, coach Joe Mallia said she quickly developed a chemistry with her teammates.

“Olivia is what we call a connector on the field,” he said. “She’s younger in that she’s only a sophomore, but for our team, she’s a budding leader, and you can see over time

that she’s going to be a connector in our program.”

When Olivia was born in 2003, Santino Quaranta — who grew up in Highlandto­wn and spent his freshman and sophomore years at Archbishop Curley before being selected in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft by D.C. United — had already played two seasons for the club. Despite being encouraged by her mother Petrina to dabble in softball for two years, gymnastics for one, and karate “for a day,” Olivia seemed destined to follow in her father’s footsteps, picking up soccer at the age of 4.

“It was never really pushed upon me, but I would always go to his games, and it was always just a part of my family,” she said. “I think for me and especially at my position, it’s just so satisfying when I can win tackles

and be at the start of a goal. I don’t think I got that satisfacti­on from the other sports.”

Santino Quaranta said as skilled as his daughter was, her biggest strength might have been her mindset.

“When she was young, I was always around her and helped her and coached her, and it was easy to coach Liv because her attitude and mentality were always great,” he said. “She wasn’t always the best player. It was her attitude and willingnes­s to just learn and take criticism and deal with adversity.”

The coach-player dynamic sometimes trickled into the father-daughter relationsh­ip, which led to some challenges in their earlier years, Olivia Quaranta acknowledg­ed. But she said she inherited the high bar her father had set for himself as a player.

“I think he showed me that I should have those standards for myself as well,” she said. “That’s how he taught me, and that’s how I was able to develop as a player to push myself.”

Santino Quaranta has tried to take a more hands-off approach as his daughter began playing for Notre Dame Prep, Pipeline Soccer Club, the Washington Spirit’s Advanced Developmen­t Program, and now Loyola. But he admitted that he is thrilled when Olivia even now requests his feedback after games.

“This has been a lot better for me — being able to let go and let her create her own pathway and let her figure out if she was starting or not starting, if she was struggling, if she was playing well,” he said. “Analyzing the game and sometimes taking the father piece out of it, I can say, ‘Liv, you weren’t great,’ or ‘This is what you did to not start,’ and when she does really well, it’s, ‘Here is why.’ Those are all things that are from soccer-to-soccer, not father-todaughter, and I think she values that.”

When the time came to choose a college destinatio­n, Olivia Quaranta said she selected the Greyhounds over East Carolina because of the players she met, the beauty of the Baltimore school’s campus, and the proximity to her family. (“I’m such a homebody,” she conceded.)

Still, Santino Quaranta felt a tinge of melancholy.

“When she left for college, I was like, ‘Liv, what am I going to do now?’ ” he said. “My son [Valentino, 13] and my wife are pretty close. So she will always be like that with me.”

Olivia Quaranta’s decision has paid dividends for the family, which seemingly has its own section of about 10 fans at every home game at Ridley Athletic Complex. Even Olivia’s paternal and maternal great-grandmothe­rs have made recent appearance­s.

This past summer, father and daughter worked out together at Patterson Park, running on the same paths that Santino and his uncle traversed when the former was a teenager. Santino Quaranta said he and his daughter often trained at 1 p.m. and finished sessions with a climb of a few hundred yards up a steep incline that has earned the nickname “Balboa Hill” after the title character from the “Rocky” film franchise.

Mallia admitted that he didn’t watch much of Santino Quaranta’s playing career. But the Loyola coach said it is easy to see that Olivia has inherited some of her father’s traits.

“The one thing that I like to say that makes a good soccer player in college into a very good soccer player is their consistenc­y and their profession­alism and their commitment to the game and their commitment to training and their commitment to getting better,” he said. “Olivia definitely has that, and I’ve got to imagine that she gets that from her dad talking to her about that through her developmen­t.”

Despite her link to her famous father, Olivia Quaranta doesn’t make a show of that connection, according to those who know her well.

“I always tell her, ‘I swear that I throw out that fact more than you do. This is sick. Your father played for the U.S. national team, he played for D.C. United,’ ” senior goalkeeper Paige Sim said. “But she is the type of person who is so under the radar with how she carries herself. She is a hard worker, and she wants to pave her own path with what she’s done, not necessaril­y with the fame of being Santino’s daughter.”

Try as she might though, Olivia Quaranta said she often hears the phrase “Santino’s daughter.”

“Honestly, he’s been really good about letting me make my own destiny,” she said. “I’ve always seen it as a good thing. I’ve always embraced being his daughter, that it’s something to be proud of. I think now that I am in college playing soccer and making a name for myself, I’m growing out of being ‘Santino’s daughter’ a little bit — as sad as that sounds.”

The feeling is mutual for Santino Quaranta. “She’s a great kid, and I’m fortunate to be her dad,” he said proudly.

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? A decade after Santino Quaranta, right, played his last game as a profession­al, his daughter, Olivia Quaranta, pictured in 2021, is forging her own career with the Loyola Maryland women’s program.
COURTESY PHOTO A decade after Santino Quaranta, right, played his last game as a profession­al, his daughter, Olivia Quaranta, pictured in 2021, is forging her own career with the Loyola Maryland women’s program.

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