During every softball game she’s played for Marist in the last year, junior Emily Bojan has worn the same large, white bow in her hair.

A year of softball games has taken its toll on the bow, which is now dirty, sweaty and pretty beaten up.

However, that bow isn’t going anywhere. Bojan wears it for her grandfather, Jack Quinn, who died Nov. 26, 2020.

“It’s always a reminder that I know he’s there. When I fix my hair, I think, ‘Oh my god, what would he say? What would he tell me?’” Bojan said. “I’d think of all his jokes and take a moment to just breathe, think of all the good stuff as a reminder.”

The background story of the bow goes back to last summer.

After spring high school sports were canceled due to the pandemic, sports started to filter back in small segments. Having missed her sophomore season with the Marist softball team, Bojan played with her travel team, the Orland Sparks, late in the summer.

Watching his granddaughter’s softball games via live stream, Quinn couldn’t always easily see Emily on the field.

But, the former longtime coach came up with a quick fix.

“Poppy could never tell me which one was me unless I had a bow in my hair,” Bojan said with a laugh. “He gave me the money to get my white bow. I’ve worn it ever since.”

Quinn and his wife, Ellen, raised their family in the parish of Visitation Church before moving to Mt. Greenwood and Queen of Martyrs Church in 1990. Quinn was a familiar face in the youth sports scene on the South Side dating back to the 1950s, coaching elementary school football and then as the longtime junior-varsity and freshman coach at St. Rita High School.

Having missed her sophomore season due to the pandemic, Bojan was a breakout star for the RedHawks this spring. Earning the starting catcher spot, Bojan was a strong defensive presence behind the plate and quickly cemented herself as the three-hitter in the lineup.

She led a high-powered RedHawks attack with 66 RBI and was second on the team with 10 home runs. She finished the season hitting .429 with 45 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples and 29 runs scored.

Completing a dominant season, Marist won the state championship on June 17, defeating Huntley in the semifinals and Lincoln-Way Central in the title game.

Bojan made a highlight catch in foul territory up against the net in the first inning of the championship to end a threat from Lincoln-Way Central.

With her family in attendance, including Grandma Ellen, it was a special moment for Bojan and her family.

“My grandpa being gone, I know he would have loved to be here right now,” Bojan said. “Playing for him this year, walking over to see my grandma at the end of the game, it’s just heart-breaking. I know he’s watching. To come out with this type of win, I don’t even have any words. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

As for her bow, Bojan might need to do some reconstructive surgery on it as she quickly transitions to her travel team’s busy schedule.

“It’s really dirty, and it’s honestly hanging together by a thread,” Bojan said with a laugh. “I’ve got to figure something out, maybe Super Glue. I’ve got to save it somehow. I’ll figure it out.”