Melissa Quartarone and Rena Goodwin (Photos by Joshua McCoy)
Sept. 11, 2012
By Kim Ling
Associate Director, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
Coming from different parts of the United States two years ago, they roomed together as freshmen on the Ole Miss rifle team. Now, juniors Melissa Quartarone and Rena Goodwin are both captains hoping to lead the Rebels to the NCAA Championships in 2013.
For Quartarone, a native of Georgia, it was a fun game in the back yard that led her down this road.
“We got a BB gun in the sixth grade for Christmas. I took it out in the backyard the morning after I got it, and we set up a can on a wheelbarrow. I shot at it three times and everybody thought I missed the target. But when we got to it, there were three holes in the center of the can. I knew from then on, I could be good at it,” Quartarone said.
Quartarone earned Georgia All-State honors in 2008 and 2010 for Parkview High School in Stone Mountain.
Goodwin’s path to Ole Miss began a little different. The Massachusetts native tagged along with her brother, who at the time was a participant in rifle. Goodwin admits to being hooked right away.
“I had left the sport of gymnastics and my parents said I had to do something, so I started shooting with my brother. He ended up leaving the sport and I fell in love with it. The following year I told my dad I wanted my own rifle. I wanted to start shooting competitively like some of the other kids at the club. He told me if I shot my first 100, he would buy me a rifle.”
The rest is history. Goodwin finished third in the smallbore at the 2009 USA Nationals at Fort Benning and was on her way to a scholarship at Ole Miss.
Both Quartarone and Goodwin made an immediate impact on the team as freshmen in 2010-11. Quartarone finished third on the team with a 571.6 season average in smallbore and also finished with a season average of 579.6 in air rifle.
“I was determined to make an impact,” Quartarone said. “I wanted to make the traveling team. Coach told me if I made the traveling team, she would get me a suit. When I made the traveling team that first trip I was on top of the world.”
As a sophomore, Quartarone was named a National Rifle Association smallbore second team All-American. In addition, she earned Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) smallbore and air rifle second team honors.
Inside the rifle range at the Patricia C. Lamar Readiness Center, where the team practices daily, they have a countdown clock on the wall that reads: “NCAA Rifle Championships, have you done all you can to prepare?”
The past two years, the team has come agonizingly close to making the NCAA Championships, a goal both Quartarone and Goodwin believe will happen this year.
“We want to make it to NCAAs, but it’s more than that,” Quartarone said. “It’s not just about making it, we want to place at NCAAs. We just have to get over the qualifier hump.”
Goodwin echoed her fellow captain. “We’ve kind of embraced what our new Athletics Director (Ross Bjork) has said about culture here and why not Ole Miss. We’ve restructured our program some this year. We’ve all come in with different mindsets and we are ready to make it happen. We are focusing on the little things, like our culture, staying healthy and mentally strong and getting good grades. If we do all those things, then we can definitely achieve what Melissa said.”
Speaking of good grades, both Quartarone and Goodwin are right on target in the classroom. Quartarone, a forensic chemistry major, and Goodwin, an exercise science major, have been named Collegiate Rifle Coaches’ Association Academic All-Americans two years in a row.
When asked what she planned to do with forensic chemistry, Quartarone chuckled then said we might see her as a real life CSI one day, though she’s never seen the fictional version on TV.
“I would like to work with a crime scene investigation department. I have never seen CSI or any of those other criminal shows. I’ve just read a lot, and I am actually really interested in forensic anthropology. I’ve been trying to get either a double major or minor in anthropology because I like working with bones. Maybe after that I might go off on my own as a private investigator.”
Quartarone also plans to continue shooting, with her target the 2016 Olympics. “I have a coaching certification, and I have a couple of teams back home that I coach. I am really dedicated to staying with it. I want to give it a solid chance to see if I can make the Olympics. I hear it’s warm in Rio, and I love warm weather,” she said.
Goodwin, who plans to go to graduate school to study neuromechanics and biomechanics, will likely put down her guns for awhile she says. “I will probably pack up the guns and put them away for a few years after Ole Miss. I know they won’t stay in the safe for too long. I am sure I will come back to the sport after I finish grad school and get more settled.”
For now, both captains are aiming at the target: 2013 NCAA Championships.