Four hours each day. Five days a week. Every week for 10 years.
Ten thousand hours.
That’s how long Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, says it takes to become an expert at something.
By the time she graduated high school, senior guard Quinci Mann of the Lehigh women’s basketball team had already logged 10,000 hours of basketball.
And she wasn’t even the first Mann to achieve the milestone.
Her parents met playing pickup basketball.
Her mom, Debi Gore-Mann, played basketball on a full athletic scholarship at Stanford University, around the time Division I scholarships had just started being offered. She helped lead her team to the first NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament during her senior year in 1982.
“(My teammates and I) sort of realized now we were making history, but at the time we were just excited to be in a national postseason tournament,” Gore-Mann said. “But, now, we look back and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we were really building the foundation.’”
Like her daughter, she was a point guard.
Mann’s dad played basketball for the University of San Francisco.
He was the scorer.
“I’m the perfect middle of (my mom) and my dad because she was the pure point guard and he was the pure scorer,” Mann said.
Coming from two high-intensity, high-level teams, Mann’s parents understand what it takes to succeed and the benefit of getting their hours and skill work in early on — valuable lessons they taught and perspectives they offered their only child.
Growing up, Mann’s parents introduced her to multiple sports and figured she would pursue softball because she was a talented player.
“I was able to have a lot of different interests, which put a lot less pressure on basketball, and I honestly don’t think that there was any pressure to choose one,” Mann said. “It was just, ‘Do what you love for as long as you can, and do it at a high level.’”
When she wasn’t busy with her other hobbies, Mann would practice shooting on the hoop her dad put up in the backyard of their family home.
After realizing she could take the sport further than just playing recreationally, Mann chose basketball.
“Basketball was just a family thing,” Gore-Mann said. “I would say (Mann) definitely got the scoring part from (her dad) and probably more of the point guard stuff from me. We like to think that, but you’ll start a family feud if you bring that up.”
From her first shot, Mann began tallying up her hours and realizing the importance of hard work and resilience.
From both her parents, Mann began learning about the family’s philosophy of 10,000 hours.
When Mann was a few years old, Gore-Mann accepted a position at Stanford as the senior associate athletics director and the senior women’s athletics administrator.
Mann grew up on the sidelines of college sporting events at Stanford and, later on, at the University of San Francisco where her mom became the school’s first female executive director of the department of intercollegiate athletics.
“There’s something about that student athlete experience and in competing at it that really has stayed with me,” Gore-Mann said. “So, the biggest takeaway always is that had I not been an athlete, I don’t know that I would have achieved this much and been as driven because it’s just sort of the fabric of who I am.”
Lehigh women’s basketball coach Sue Troyan attributes Gore-Mann’s achievements to her strength, perseverance and belief in herself and her abilities.
These are all qualities Mann said she admires about her mom and was lucky to have passed down to her.
“She doesn’t only expect herself to be great, she expects everyone in her circle to be great, and I think that’s a big similarity that we both have in common,” Mann said. “I admire the ability to have high expectations and demand things of people.”
As a former student athlete, Gore-Mann said she’s used to performing under high levels of pressure and intensity as well as holding herself and others to high expectations and standards.
Troyan said Mann embodies similar characteristics as a confident, strong-willed individual who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to chase after it.
“I coach women at an age that’s a lot of times challenging,” Troyan said. “You’re trying to build self-esteem, you’re trying to build confidence. For me, I want every one of our women who leave our program to leave as a confident, strong woman who’s willing to speak her mind and be confident in who she is. I think Debi’s done a great job of raising Quinci to that standard, to a very high standard.”
Troyan said Mann’s journey at Lehigh hasn’t been the easiest, but Gore-Mann has been instrumental in serving as a role model and helping her daughter navigate the challenges of being the only African American woman on the team.
Mann said the people in her life who understand how difficult it is to be a student-athlete in a Division I program — her parents — are the ones who don’t let her quit when times get tough.
Mann’s parents have shown her that the pressures she faces are privileges because she’s being given the opportunity to succeed.
Troyan said the biggest life lesson Mann has learned along the way is the importance of teamwork and making herself and others around her better in order to make the team better.
Gore-Mann said she’s watched her daughter, who is now in her final season as a Mountain Hawk, spend her four years as a collegiate athlete holding herself to high standards in every situation, making the place a better one than she found it and exceeding the expectations her parents set for her.
“In terms of coming to a program and having an impact, she’s really having the big impact that we thought she could, and I’m so glad that she is,” Gore-Mann said.
Mann said she couldn’t have done it without her parents, who taught her the concept of 10,000 hours, guided her through each hour and supported her ever since she reached the accomplishment.
“If I had parents who were any less hard on me or had lower expectations or just didn’t understand what it took to hold me accountable,” she said, “I probably wouldn’t have reached the heights that I have. I wouldn’t have learned to have high expectations of people. I also feel like I wouldn’t expect as much of myself. They never let me think any less of myself. They didn’t ask any less of me than I was capable of.”