Former LFSA family celebrates Senior Day with sister Rachel, father David and mother Diane.
ON SEPT. 19, Kasey Quon stood quietly with her parents and two sisters in an open field on Stanford’s campus and watched six balloons disappear into the night sky.
Chris Quon was a two-sport athlete at Colorado College and an inspiring brother to Kasey, now a senior on the Stanford field hockey team.
On Sept. 19, 2009, Chris died unexpectedly due to a heart condition.
The Quon family honors Chris’ memory each year by releasing six balloons – one for each member of their family, including Chris. It’s a tradition the family started a year after his passing.
Quon’s family chooses a different place on Stanford’s campus to release the balloons in honor of Chris’ adventurous spirit. This year the family found an open field off Campus Drive.
Before releasing her balloon, Kasey wrote a note to her brother telling him he’s always in their hearts and they’re thinking about him. She attached the note to her balloon, and along with her parents and sisters, watched the balloons float away.
Quon’s journey to Stanford was one of perseverance, dedication, humility and inspiration – all qualities fueled in large part by her older brother.
Quon described Chris as the “typical big brother” who would tease his younger sisters in a loving way. Her most vivid memories consist of simple moments like him teaching her how to play catch with a lacrosse stick in the backyard or watching her youth basketball games.
Chris was a traveler. He enjoyed being adventurous and exploring new cultures and people. He made the trip to Germany for the 2006 World Cup and traveled through Europe.
Quon first stepped foot on Stanford’s campus when Chris convinced his parents, David and Diane, to take a family college trip out West when he was a freshman in high school. So Kasey, her sisters Sarah and Rachel, Chris and their parents got on a plane to visit Stanford.
From L to R: Rachel, Diane, Chris, Sarah, Kasey, David
During the trip, the Quon family traveled all over campus and fell in love the university.
Chris eventually went to Colorado College, where he played soccer and lacrosse, and earned a degree in economics. His appreciation for Stanford did not fade and his youngest sisters, Rachel and Kasey, made it their own goals to attend.
While at Colorado College, Chris combined his love for athletics and knowledge to help others, including starting his own philanthropic fundraising endeavor called Answer to Cancer. Chris organized a 6-v-6 soccer tournament to raise awareness and contribute to cancer research. All proceeds from the entry fees of the tournament were donated to the American Cancer Society.
After Chris’ death, his friends and teammates at Colorado College decided to continue the tournament in his honor and renamed the competition the Quony Cup.
“It was in college when he really started to think beyond himself and how to help others and give back,” said Quon’s mother Diane. “It was nice to see him start to grow up and his desire to help others. It’s definitely influenced my daughters and how they view giving back.”
Following his graduation from Colorado College in 2009, Chris moved back home to Chicago to begin a career in finance. Kasey was the only sibling home with Sarah and Rachel away at college.
Everything was moving along smoothly until the night of Sept. 18 when Chris said he was not feeling well.
Chris went to the hospital the next day but the virus had infected his lungs and he passed away that night.
“It was just a sudden virus that went into his heart and his lungs,” said Diane.
Kasey, a junior at Lake Forest High School at the time, was knee-deep in advanced placement classes and contacting coaches about playing field hockey in college.
“That time was so tough for me,” said Quon. “I was trying to balance grief, academics and reaching out to coaches. It was a lot of things to juggle.”
Despite dealing with such a loss, Quon remained strong. She was the only sibling still at home and helped provide stability for her parents.
“During that whole time, Kasey stayed strong for me,” said Diane. “She was always the one who was so shy and sweet … but in many ways, Kasey was so strong and that shone through during that tough time.”
Kasey continued to be the best she could be and excelled in the classroom and on the field.
Her dedication paid off when she received a phone call from Stanford head coach Tara Danielson late one night after a field hockey game.
She had been accepted and would be a Cardinal in the fall.
|Chris (third from left) played lacrosse and soccer at
Prior to arriving on campus, Quon contacted the coaching staff requesting jersey No. 21 – the same number Chris wore in college.
“The number I chose to wear at Stanford is bigger than a number,” said Quon. “I put on the jersey thinking of him. I feel like he’s with me.”
Quon has continued to honor Chris while at Stanford, embodying his humble but fierce competitive mentality on the field. She’s played in every match during her four-year career, totaling 83 consecutive appearances.
Before her senior year began, Quon decided she wanted to dedicate the entire season to Chris and hoped she and the team could accomplish something special.
“The impact my brother made was teaching me the sky’s the limit and if you try your best, anything can be possible,” said Quon.
Stanford’s victory this season against Central Michigan on Sept. 19 was special, not only because it came on the anniversary of Chris’ death, but because it was a pivotal moment for Stanford field hockey. Following that game, the Cardinal went on a program-best 11-game winning-streak and achieved the highest national ranking in program history, spending three consecutive weeks at No. 3.
Stanford has excelled against the best programs in the country and reached new heights of national prominence. The Cardinal leads the country with 17 wins, is the only team with one loss and boasts a 5-1 record against top-25 opponents.
Quon has played a major role in that success, starting all 18 games on defense and rarely being taken off the field, except for an occasional water break. She has helped lead the nation’s top defensive unit that has limited opponents to one goal or less in 17 of 18 games.
Despite the success, don’t expect Quon to seek attention. Her focus is solely on refining her game and being the best teammate possible – qualities she observed and learned from Chris.
“My brother was never the captain, scored the most goals or had the best stats,” said Quon. “What represented my brother was being a team player who was humble and did the extra work that other people didn’t really notice.”
Quon says she’s embraced that mentality throughout her playing career and tried her best to live up to her family’s motto of “Being the best you can be.”
Danielson recognized this quality early on and has watched it grow over the past four seasons.
“Kasey is a fighter and the ultimate team player,” said Danielson. “She finds success by outworking everyone else. She’s a three-year starter because of her work ethic and perseverance.”
With graduation approaching, Quon is thankful for the opportunities and people she’s met. She remembers the close bond Chris had with his college teammates and friends, and how over 50 of them traveled to Chicago to attend his funeral despite being spread across the country.
“My brother emphasized how much he valued his relationships with his friends, teammates and family,” said Quon. “That’s something I try to take with me as well. I’m thankful for my team and coaches. We’ve been through so much and I’m thankful I can call them my family.”
Diane is also thankful for the bonds built by both her daughters and the atmosphere provided at Stanford – something she partially credits Chris with helping forge.
“I really feel the two girls wouldn’t have been at Stanford if it wasn’t for Chris who convinced us to go visit when he was a freshman in high school,” said Diane. “I’m thankful to Chris for sharing his dream and making it seem like it’s possible even though it seems so hard.”
In a season full of firsts, Quon and the Cardinal enter postseason play looking to check a couple more boxes. How does Quon expect the season she dedicated to Chris to end?
“It doesn’t matter as long as you tried your hardest and gave it your all,” said Quon.
Then, after pausing a moment, concluded, “But in the long run, a national championship would be nice.”
The sky’s the limit.