The second annual US Squash Academy picked up where the inaugural Academy left off last summer, attracting top U.S. juniors, college players and professional prospects for two weeks of special Team USA elite performance academy training, July 9-21, at Trinity College.
The Academy provided an environment for current U.S. collegiate athletes and recent graduates to train as professionals to prepare them for potential careers in squash. Through exposure to the U.S. National Coaching staff, the athletes are more prepared should they choose to successfully pursue the Elite Athlete Program upon graduation.
The Academy also incorporated two separate one-week squads for junior Team USA players, ages Under 11, Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17.
“Last year we had a great start as a first year program, getting the word out and the energy was great,” said Gilly Lane, US Squash Academy Director. “This year, the two weeks were absolutely incredible. The staff that Rich Wade assembled worked so well together and were so enthusiastic. There was an immense wealth of collective knowledge between the country’s best coaches. The was great energy from the kids who were not just open to learning and trying new things, but also buying into US Squash’s ideas and long term planning. I have never been so happy with what was happening on a daily basis, and there was tremendous growth this year on and off the court from the players that attended. It was a fantastic experience and I’m already looking forward to next year.”
This year, the group of professional prospects had an increased regimen of career management training, focused on different aspects of life as a touring squash professional.
“Last year, especially within the older and professional groups, we had a lot of people who were just going on the professional tour or thinking about the professional tour,” Lane said. “This year, had four of the seven players were already on tour, which is a great step for U.S. Squash. Things are moving in the right direction when more people continue to play professionally after their college careers, and when all three Academy college players have expressed their considerable interest in playing professionally after college. I thought that the camraderie was even better than it was last year with all of the players feeding off each other. They realized how great it could be to be a professional squash player, but they also realized how tough it is. It was an amazing experience for the younger kids to see the professionals train on a daily basis and model what they were doing after them.”
While initiatives such as the Regional Squads, Regional Team Championships and Elite Athlete Program have been in place for a few years, the Academy bridged the gap between juniors, prospective EAP players and college players.
“This whole program doesn’t come together without Rich Wade and Paul Assaiante,” Lane added. “Rich’s vision has set the tone for where U.S. squash is going. Paul Assaiante is the most successful coach in college squash and he’s been successful on the Team USA level for a reason. He knows he’s putting great people in positions to succeed and those two people should be commended for everything they’ve done to get it to this point. This program is only going to be bigger and better next year.”