World-class volleyball player. Brilliant student. Semi-professional magic talents. Up-and-coming investment banking analyst. Returned missionary. Dashing good looks. Too good to be true?
Not if your name is Quentin Smith.
[media-credit name=”Photo by Taylor Street” align=”alignleft” width=”225″][/media-credit]Smith, a senior member of the third-ranked BYU men’s volleyball team, is not the average Division I volleyball player, or the average finance major, for that matter. When Smith graduates in April, he will head to New York City to take a position at Goldman, Sachs & Co. as an analyst, one of the most coveted entry-level positions in the investment banking world.
Oh yeah. And he has been a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians since he was 11. Add that to the fact that in 2008, upon return from his mission to Joao Pessoa, Brazil, he was cut from the volleyball team and eventually invited back via text message, and Smith becomes one of the most intriguing people on campus.
According to Smith, the most interesting thing about him is not his volleyball skills, his talent when it comes to close-up magic, his good grades or his job offers.
“I think the most interesting thing about this whole thing is when people see me play, I don’t think anyone has any idea how incredible it is how things lined up,” he said. “I’ve learned that there’s always a way to end up where you’ve dreamed you could be.”
When Smith, a Sandy native, began playing volleyball in seventh grade, he was a mere 5-foot-8. During a summer camp put on by his junior high coach Gene Bechthold, Smith met Carl McGown, coach of BYU’s 1999 and 2001 national championship teams. McGown knew Smith’s three older brothers were all more than six feet tall.
“He [McGown] told me, ‘You better keep playing volleyball, because if you end up being that tall, you’ll be able to play in college someday,'” Smith said. “From that day on, that was my goal … to play Division I volleyball.”
Fast forward seven years. After redshirting as a freshman walk-on, Smith left for his mission. During his two years in Brazil, BYU’s head coach changed, leaving Smith’s future as a Cougar uncertain. In the fall of 2008, Smith tried out for the team but was told there was no longer room for him.
Smith said the cut did not make him bitter or upset. Rather, he became more focused on school and figuring out what career path he wished to pursue.
“I was at this spot where I kind of thought it was time to move on,” he said. “I really just let the volleyball stuff fade away.”
Fast forward to August 2010. Smith just returned from a summer in New York City, where he interned at UBS, an investment bank. He had a full-time job offer from UBS waiting for him back in New York upon graduation in April. But he still had two years of volleyball eligibility left.
After talking to then head coach Rob Nielsen, as well as business professor Kim Smith, Smith decided to turn down UBS’s offer and stick around for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He said it was a huge risk to take, but was ultimately the right decision.
Not only is Smith now a captain of one of the best volleyball teams in the nation, but he has an even better job offer on the table than before.
According to his friends and colleagues, Smith’s success is anything but luck. His roommate of two years, Danny Rasmussen, attributed Smith’s success to his motivation and goal-oriented work ethic.
“I don’t know anyone who is more focused on achieving his goals than Quentin,” Rasmussen said. “He relishes a challenge and works tirelessly until he has achieved his goal … I would be shocked if he does not conquer New York City by the time he’s 35.”
According to professor Kim Smith, the combination of Quentin’s competitive edge thanks to volleyball, his willingness to sacrifice thanks to his mission and his raw intelligence, will make him successful in the long run.
But that is only part of the story. Smith is also an expert close-up magician. According to fellow senior teammates Robb Stowell and Futi Tavana, Smith’s magic is unbelievable.
“It will blow your mind,” Stowell said. “But he’s very selective when he shows it off. He never does it on request. When he does do it, he’ll do two or three tricks and leave you wanting more.”
When he was 11, Smith met one of his older sister’s friends, who was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Smith had been mildly interested in magic, but after watching a few tricks, he decided to learn more.
Soon enough, Smith found himself alone in front of a crowd of middle-aged men, auditioning to be a member of the brotherhood. Smith performed his routine and was subsequently overwhelmingly welcomed. Since then, Smith has kept and polished his skills.
“It’s kind of just been this fun thing to do and has kind of made me memorable in different groups,” he said. “But I never like to show off and be like, ‘look what I can do!’ I make people want to see it.”
Kiran Moorthy, an analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. who worked with Smith during his 2011 summer internship, said Smith has a future in whatever path he decides to take.
“Quentin has a fantastic attitude along with a stellar work ethic,” he said. “The kid has numerous talents and interests and makes this a wild card … I could see him involved in his Church group, enter the world of magic, professional volleyball player. Who knows, maybe even acting? It’s just impossible to guess with Quentin because of all his talents.”
Whatever happens, Smith says one thing is certain: dreams do come true.
“I couldn’t have written it out any better the way things are ending for me,” he said. “The one thing I’ve learned from everything is that you really can end up wherever you want. You really do write your own destiny.”