‘Biggest tournament there is:’ Family cheers on Chula Vista Olympian from afar

Japan 2020


CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Emotions ran high at an Olympics watch party in Chula Vista Thursday at the home where Olympian Isalys Quiñones grew up.

The 23-year-old is a member of Puerto Rico’s women’s basketball team in Tokyo, making history with the team’s first appearance in the Olympics.

“It means a whole bunch to me that everybody decided to come, and we have even more friends but because of COVID, we restricted to people who were vaccinated,” Quiñones’ mother Frances said.

The Dartmouth alum has been part of Puerto Rico’s team since 2017 but at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quiñones found herself at her parents’ house in Chula Vista. She stayed dedicated to the game, practicing in their backyard for an hour and their homemade gym for another.

“We always told them, ‘If you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it right,’” Isalys’ father Roberto said. “You don’t do things halfway. You don’t quit. If you commit to something, you commit for the whole road.”

Quiñones stays in contact with her family through social media, FaceTime calls, you name it. She even FaceTimed them during the Opening Ceremony.

While Puerto Rico hasn’t won a game in the Olympics, Isalys’ parents are just happy to see their daughter represent their country.

“Losing, but losing at the Olympics,” her dad said. “This is not just some community tournament, a Sunday league or anything like that. This is the biggest tournament there is.”

As if being an Olympian wasn’t enough, Isalys also works as an engineer, earning two degrees from Dartmouth. She’ll continue her basketball career in France after the Olympics.

“Regardless of what happens, whether they lose all three games, they made it to the Olympics,” Frances said. “We are so proud of not only her but the entire team, the entire staff that made something out of really nothing.”

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