Those we are with shape who we are as people. Our interconnectedness, our interpersonal communication, and most specifically our language, makes us human. Language allows us to tell stories about the past, express what we are thinking and feeling now, and very significantly, what we hope and imagine the future to be like.
Among the people who had the biggest impact on how I have approached my career is Norm Langill. In the early 1970’s he drove a truck around the Pacific Northwest and performed the One Reel Vaudeville Show. What drove Norm was the idea that people need to be with each other, they need to have experiences, live and in person. Television was taking over our culture, driving perceptions of politics, influencing our culture more than any other force in the 20th century. People were staying home more, interacting less, and experiencing life through a screen rather than physically out in the world.
Over forty years, Norm has built on this idea and created a successful non-profit event production company that is now one of the largest in the region and touches millions of lives. I was drawn by Norm’s vision, and was fortunate to spend a summer interning at One Reel in the 1990’s. His passion, commitment, and vision inspired me, and it still does. The accelerated forces at work in today’s society—technology, self-absorbing social media, and ubiquitous screens of all sizes—may require people like Norm more than ever before.
Six years ago, we partnered with Drexel University to host the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships. We had a grand vision of thousands of people having access to cheer wildly for their favorite squash stars, sharing their passion for the sport with each other. Through the commitment, dedication and hard work of many, including the support from Drexel President John Fry, Athletic Director Eric Zillmer, Associate Athletic Director Laura White, Events Coordinator AJ DiGennaro and members of our own staff such as Conor O’Malley, Dent Wilkens, Graham Bassett and dozens of others, we are closer to this vision than ever before.
We sold out the finals session, and had more than 1, 000 fans from dozens of nationalities share an experience together, live and in person. What they witnessed involved two dramatic performances, by women and men, which had moments of suspense, athletes pushing themselves to their mental and physical limits, and frequent acts of sportsmanship. The competition was ruled not by officials, but rather by the shared values of mutual respect and courtesy.
During times of crises we observe that people are drawn together—they seek more interaction and assurances that better times are ahead because we’re in it together. This helps us maintain our balance, our centeredness, and our sense of shared values. This is what strong communities do. At US Squash we take pride in our work, which brings people together to interact with one another, socially, in competition, and as eyewitnesses to great spectacles of athleticism. It is why we embrace our enduring responsibility to foster the values of honesty, courtesy, respect, and inclusiveness in the U.S. squash community.