EASTHAM — Jody Quill was there when Nauset Regional High School’s gym opened in December 1971. And she was there when the final game was played in the gym on Feb. 17.
The Nauset Hall of Famer — she’s been inducted both as a player and as a coach — held tightly onto her emotions as she paid tribute to a place that she said has given her so much.
Quill was a four-year member of the basketball, softball, and field hockey teams during her time as a Nauset student. She returned to her alma mater in 1986 as a teacher and the junior varsity field hockey coach, became the varsity head coach five years later, and stayed until her retirement in 2017.
From the scorer’s table last week, she noted that she’s not done yet. “I still come back and do this — which I love to do,” she said.
“The last week has been very nostalgic for me,” said Quill. She would flash her retro Nauset varsity coat to passersby who spotted it, with the gold Nauset “N” leaping off the fabric. At halftime, arms folded and with a smile on her face, she watched the Nauset cheerleaders from the corner of the court. After the game, she was one of many not ready to leave, hanging around to remember past games held at the gym, which will now undergo extensive renovations.
“I’ve been thinking about when I first got here,” she said. “A lot has happened in this gym over the last 51 years.” Nostalgia aside, Quill allows that an overhaul is in order: “Change is hard, but sometimes change is necessary.”
Quill saw her sons go through the Nauset program. “I think I remember more of my sons’ wins than my own because there were some very exciting moments,” she recalled. One of the most nerve-racking, she said, was being at the scorer’s table while trying to watch her son play a tournament game.
“Jody is the perfect example of what makes this place so special,” said Nauset’s director of athletics John Mattson. Mattson, like Quill, is a graduate of the high school. Quill was one of his teachers, he said. She’s “one of those people who really cares a lot about this school.”
That Feb. 17 game, the last on the Nauset hardwood, was a tough defeat to Dennis-Yarmouth for the Warrior girls basketball team to close out the season. But the crowd included a good number of students who seemed to absorb the nostalgic mood. Overheard from the bleachers: “I just wanted to be here to see it this one last time.”
“It was just awe,” said Quill, remembering the first time she saw the gym as a student. Quill had two sisters and a brother who played sports at Nauset, too. “We felt so lucky,” she said, to play there. Her parents took the same spot in the bleachers for years and kept attending games even after Quill and her siblings had all graduated.
Quill doesn’t think the spirit of the place will be lost in the renovation. “Nauset does such a great job keeping its history alive,” she said. She knows the school will still have its Hall of Fame and hang onto old plaques and trophies.
“Kids that are here now look at those,” she said, “and it’s important to keep them displayed so they can appreciate what athletes did 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago.”
What she’s most thankful for, Quill said, along with so many good memories, is the way what went on in the gym gave her a feeling of family. “It’s home to me,” she said.