Girls squash team revises program

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By Hannah Simon, Staff Reporter With a new coaching staff and a fresh roster of players, the girls’ squash team has reinvented itself for the current season.  The team, whose coaching positions changed over the years, is looking to further solidify and build upon the establishment of their program. With the vast majority of the...

By Hannah Simon, Staff Reporter

With a new coaching staff and a fresh roster of players, the girls’ squash team has reinvented itself for the current season. 

The team, whose coaching positions changed over the years, is looking to further solidify and build upon the establishment of their program. With the vast majority of the roster consisting of newer players, the team is proving successful against other schools with more experienced programs, maintaining a current 3-1 record.

Returning for his second season, head coach Sunil Desai is a contributor to the team’s morale. He previously worked as a voluntary assistant coach for George Washington University,

“Coach Desai plays at a very high skill level and his expertise combined with (that of) our assistant coach, coach Das, makes them very capable teachers,” said senior and captain Elise Bermingham.

Unlike previous years, Desai began to advertise the team and their mission to try and publicize their efforts. The team’s administration created a website, the home to Conestoga girls squash, to which they make regular updates. Desai believes that teaching beginner players is a pillar of the program and a reason young athletes join.

“Every coach has their own style and personality, and every season is faced with a different situation,” Desai said. “It’s not so much about making changes as it is applying one’s style and personality (and experience) to the new situation.”

Practices consist of several drills ranging from agility and speed to hand eye coordination. The team utilizes a ranking system, involving structured ladder matches. Athletes play against the person one position ahead and behind them. With a relatively large team this year, more autonomy is provided during practice to adjust drills based on specific areas of improvement. 

“I truly think there’s a place for every skill level here due to the ranking or ladder system squash uses. Not many sports can say the same,” Bermingham said. 

Freshman Sarah Buchanan enjoys the supportive and amiable environment created by the team and its members. She finds that the practices add balance to her life as a student.

“It’s just something I really look forward to every day after school: if it’s a hard day, or I don’t do so well on a test, it’s like ‘well, you have squash, and that’s really fun!’  It just makes me really happy,” Buchanan said.

Outside of bus shortages caused by the pandemic, the differences are met almost universally with approval, from parents to coaches to players. Nathalie Wetzel, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, is another new addition to the staff. A licensed yoga instructor and graduate of Barnard College, Wetzel supports the athletes’ needs through regimented fitness, supplementing their training.

“I am looking forward to the girls really learning that they can develop as athletes. (Squash) can be a whole other aspect of themselves,” Wetzel said.

Due to the pandemic circumstances, the team could not compete against other schools last season. With many new players, they recently began to navigate the competition circuit.

Nevertheless, coach Desai’s background is an empowering force behind the girls’ betterment. The lesser absence of restrictive COVID-19 protocols has also orchestrated a more organic team environment, which many believe is essential to the team’s progress.

“I’m going to miss playing matches with the team the most,” Bermingham said. “The athletic intensity that comes with playing a match is rewarding itself, but also being reffed and cheered on by your teammates is an invaluable experience.”


Hannah Simon can be reached at [email protected]

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