The fourth annual US Squash Academy brought together members of Team USA ranging from U11 players to college graduates for two weeks of intensive training, July 7-19, at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The approach to the Academy is multi-layered, combining several major components of US Squash’s elite development programs. These components include the Elite Athlete Program (EAP), prospective EAP athletes—primarily U.S. players competing in collegiate squash, the top junior prospects nationally across age divisions and the Junior Team USA players.
For the first time, the EAP portion of the Academy was held in Philadelphia, immersing the professional prospects in what will soon become the perennial home of the US Squash Academy at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in University City. Gilly Lane, who has served as the US Squash Academy Director since its inaugural year in 2015, was pleased with the progress made by the older group of players, many of whom returned to the Academy for their second or third year.
“I couldn’t be happier with the group that we have and the work that they’ve put in this summer,” Lane said. “A lot of the players have been in the Academy for a few years and have been able to see the benefits of the program. These players know what the program is like now and what to expect over these two weeks. Our coach-to-player and player-to-player relationships have been built by the program and deepened the camaraderie within this group, which will benefit Team USA for years to come.”
The Academy provides current and prospective EAP players with a professional training environment as the players prepare to balance collegiate squash with pursuit of a professional squash career. The goal is to prepare players for graduating college and entering the PSA World Tour with an advantageous world ranking. Olivia Fiechter, who graduated from Princeton last spring, returned to the Academy for her second year having improved more than 100 ranking places over the past season to a career high world No. 39. Yale’s Spencer Lovejoy and Harvard’s Timmy Brownell returned to the Academy for their third straight year having both reached the world’s top 150-ranked players over the past season.
The younger players were comprised of U11, U13, U15 and U17 nationally-ranked age group players. The younger players went through on court training and competition, as well as and classroom sessions.
The Academy served not only as a training ground for the future of Team USA, but also the U.S. squads set to compete in the upcoming Pan American Games and World Junior Championships. The Pan Ams squad trained for the last time before traveling to Lima, Peru, at Drexel, while the World Juniors squad trained at Trinity.
“It’s an exciting time for US Squash in general between our national teams and the Specter Center, and now we’re able to showcase our talent across a broad spectrum,” Lane said. “Having the Pan Ams and World Juniors teams together with the academy only motivates the academy players to really push forward and make that their goal of representing their country on the biggest stage. It’s an inspiring time for them and this group will represent us well on the biggest stages in the future.”
The Academy coaching staff included Luke Butterworth, Tina Rix-Stout, Lee Scott, Alicia Rodriguez, Chris Longman and Peter Hornsby.
Read more about the inaugural US Squash Academy here.