Club sport of the week

Bethany Blass, Sports Co-editor

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The men’s club squash team began eight years ago with a poor reputation as a college team ranked near the bottom of the list of nationwide programs. Without a facility at which to practice, enough players to compete, or a coach for guidance, the club team required enormous improvement to get to where it is today. Now, with an up-to-date facility of three squash courts built in 2012, the team is currently a nationally-ranked club team.

In the past four years, the team ranked in the top four club squash teams nationwide, and the Bison were even featured as No. 1 in 2014. The team is a completely student-run club; despite not having a coach, the captains and players schedule matches and practices on their own, and instruct their teammates while maintaining a top-notch nationwide ranking.

“Being a part of a solely student-led group that has made so much progress in the past four years has been the best part of being on the squash team,” co-captain Tyler Edwards 16 said. “Despite not having a coach to help instruct and organize everything, the team has had a lot of success on the court, and has developed into a strong squash program. It is always a great feeling to compete against teams that have legit coaches and beat them.”

Spencer Smith ’17 and co-captains Mike Gagnier ’16 and Edwards reflect on their recently ended season, which concluded in an 8-3 record. The team also qualified for the College Squash Association (CSA) championships and finished fourth in the country among club squash teams and 32nd among both club and varsity teams at the end of February.

The University’s men’s club squash team holds about four to five practices per week beginning in the fall. The team’s roster typically ranges from 10 to 20 players with the top-seeded 10 athletes traveling to scheduled events, including tournament play, which begins in October and concludes at the end of February at the CSA National Team Championship. The team travels to participate in matches at the Naval Academy as well as schools throughout the East Coast. Additionally, the team hosts a few round-robin tournaments at the University each season. Despite its club status, the team has had the opportunity to compete against several varsity programs as well, and the athletes managed to hold their own.

I think the fact that we are a self-run club team but can still contend with, and beat varsity teams says a lot about us. We don’t have the same coaching or resources as some of the bigger programs, but we still find a way to compete at a high level,” Gagnier said. “My sophomore year we were the top-ranked club team in the nation, and we continue to be around the top every year for club teams.”

Although an uncommon sport, squash found its loyal group of participants and followers on campus. The sport is essentially a one-on-one racket sport played on an indoor court surrounded by four walls. The basic premise of the game is to continue hitting the ball against the front wall until your rival is unable to hit it back. Points are scored on serves, and the players participate in five games that continue until a player reaches nine points.

Gagnier offered some advice to people who have expressed an interest in taking up squash.

“Grab someone experienced to teach you the basics, and then pick a few people who are around your skill level to play with,” Gagnier said. “No matter what your experience level is, I guarantee there is someone who’s on the same level who would love to play.”

“The best part of being on this team is the group of guys we have,” Smith said. “Everyone does a variety of different things on campus, but when we all come together every day for practice, we lock in and try to get better. We have a lot of fun, but we play because we want to compete and beat other teams.”

As the Kenneth Langone Athletics and Recreation Center (KLARC) offers courts and rentable rackets, every willing student has the chance to learn and practice squash.

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