Friends Of Harvard Squash Celebration A Huge Success
by Rob Dinerman

Dateline October 27th
--- Nearly 200 aficionados of Harvard squash crammed the Lee Family Hall of Athletic History at the Murr Center in Cambridge this past Saturday evening to commemorate the storied and championships-laden history of Harvard squash, now entering its 94th year, dating back to the inaugural 1922-23 season. There were titans from both the quite distant and very recent past (ranging from Charlie Ufford ’53, who twice won the Intercollegiate individual title, to just-graduated four-time Individuals champ Amanda Sobhy ’15), as well as from all the eras in between, and members from the current varsity teams got to meet the Crimson legends of yesteryear and understand the nature of the tradition they are joining and carrying forward. The event constituted a “gathering of the tribe” the likes of which may never have been equaled in college squash, and the presence of iconic players and coaches everywhere one looked was reminiscent of Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium.

   Head men’s and women’s coach Mike Way, whose teams have won either the Potter Cup or the Howe Cup (emblematic of the college men’s and women’s national team championships respectively) each of the past four years, welcomed the gathering, as did present-day co-captains Devin McLaughlin and Isabelle Dowling ’16 on behalf of their teammates. Then former (from 1986-92) head coach Steve Piltch delivered some memorial reflections on two Harvard squash alumni, Colin Campbell ’92 and Mike Masland ’95, who have recently passed away, in each case after bouts with cancer. After Piltch’s moving presentation, Friends of Harvard Squash long-time (10 years) Co-Chair Hope Nichols Prockop ’90 thanked the players, donors, parents and coaches associated with the program, following which Rob Dinerman, whose recently-completed hardcover book, “A History of Harvard Squash, 1922-2010”, was handed out to all attendees when they arrived at the registration desk, gave a brief author’s speech chronicling his experience of researching and writing the manuscript.

   Dinerman thanked the many interviewees for their involvement, as well as Joe Dowling ’87, for inviting him to write this History when the two of them met, with squash balls thwacking in the background, on the eighth floor of the Harvard Club of New York in February 2013. Becky Tung Hahn ’80, the first two-time first-team all-American in the annals of Harvard women’s squash, then described what the early years of the women’s squash program were like and discussed some of the growing pains leading up to the program’s emergence as a national power during the 1980’s.

The four living Harvard coaches --- namely Dave Fish ’72, now entering his FORTIETH year as Harvard tennis coach, during the first 13 of which he also coached the squash team; Piltch, the current Head of School at Shipley School in suburban Philadelphia; Bill Doyle, whose men’s/women’s teams won 13 Ivy League titles in a combined 14 seasons; and Satinder Bajwa, whose youth-enrichment charity in India is a foreign affiliate member of NUSEA, the National Urban Squash & Education Association --- were showered with praise and affection throughout the night by their grateful former players. Each of them had a chance to speak after being “presented” by their respective protégés, with Glenn Whitman ’74 speaking on behalf of his former teammate Fish, Ingrid Boyum Ellen ’87 and Jeremy Fraiberg ’92 honoring Piltch, Libby Eynon Welch ’95 and Andy Walter ’97 speaking together on the podium as they presented Doyle, and Blair Endresen Metrailler ’00 and Hilary Thorndike ’05 leading in to Bajwa’s speech.

   After a brief break for dessert, Friends Co-Chairs Bill Kaplan ’77, Reed Endresen ’11 and Jason Michas ’13 introduced Greg Zaff, whose founding of SquashBusters, the first urban youth enrichment organization in 1996, was aided tremendously by then-Coach Doyle’s forceful advocacy in securing Harvard’s permission for the fledgling charity to use Harvard’s squash courts every Saturday morning. There has been a close relationship between Harvard squash players and NUSEA ever since, and Zaff gave a detailed summary of the many Harvard-NUSEA connections that ensued and thanked the many Crimson squash alums for all the support, financial and otherwise, that they have provided throughout the past two decades. Mike Way then wrapped up the evening and invited everyone present to return to Murr for as many home dual-meets as possible during the forthcoming season and beyond.

  The entire night became a series of exuberant mini-reunions as former teammates from every generation reconnected and relived the years they spent as part of the truly magnificent history of Harvard squash. The 2014-15 men’s team won the Ivy League title and the women’s team captured the Howe Cup --- with that recent backdrop and the addition of some impressive freshmen to both rosters, the current crop of players seem well poised to make some new and exciting Harvard squash history of their own.

Photo Captions:

Steve Piltch and his former players

Steve Piltch, Satinder Bajwa, Mike Way, Bill Doyle and Dave Fish

Attendees at the Lee Family Hall of Athletic History

Bill Doyle and his former players

Satinder Bajwa, Sarah Thorndike Kelly '07 and Mohammed Ayaz

Dylan Patterson '03, Satinder Bajwa and Audrey Duboc Chastain-Chapman '07

"A History Of Harvard Squash, 1922-2010"