Despite the fact that he’s in his senior year, Jack Dowe has found a new sport that piques his interest both mentally and physically. As a member of the premier Hamden Hall Squash Club, Jack says he doesn’t see himself leaving the arena any time soon.
“After stepping on the courts, I don't think I will ever step off,” he explained. “I can say that it's my new favorite sport.”
Hamden Hall is offering instruction in the game of squash for the first time. The school partnered with Elm City Squash, which offers clinics twice a week at Yale University’s state-of-the-art Brady Squash Center.
“We have found the Hamden Hall players to be hard-working, enthusiastic, and highly coachable,” said Pamela Saunders, who runs the clinics and is the Associate Head Coach of Women’s Squash at Yale University.
While Hamden Hall’s “squashies” label the new offering fun, they also admit that grasping the fundamentals of the game is challenging – and somewhat difficult.
“Getting the aiming and timing to hit the ball just right is harder than it seems,” said eighth-grader Michael Tracy, who is a novice to the sport.
Sophomore Olivia D’Anna wanted to try her hand at squash despite having never played the game before.
“The most challenging aspect is taking the skills we learned from the coaches and using them when we play each other,” she said, further noting that playing at nearby Yale is “cool.”
“I also really like going to Squash practice because I am with kids who I usually wouldn’t hang out with and it’s fun to meet new people,” added Olivia.
Nine students have taken advantage of the offering, which joined the ranks of new athletic programs this year along with the sailing club. Both allow membership from Middle and Upper School and will eventually morph into respective teams.
“The students love it and they’re having a great time learning about squash,” said Hamden Hall Athletic Director David Doyle. “The long-term goal is to eventually have a great Hamden Hall squash team.”
In the meantime, squashies are learning basic ways to hit the ball and serve it. Keeping score during matches is also part of the curriculum.
Fun activities and small tournaments are also part of the introductory program as is a fitness component. Players hit the courts twice a week and then have one day of conditioning.
“It’s a game of brawn and brains,” maintained Jack. “It’s a dynamic game that requires not only endurance, strength and speed, but also technicality and a positive mentality. You could have the best endurance on the court, but until you are able to master your emotions, success is far off in the horizon.”