Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
It’s a great honour to be inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. The fact that the induction ceremony is taking place here at the Harvard Club of Boston is particularly meaningful to me.
My squash career and Harvard have been intimately connected since I started playing when I was 10 years old. Growing up in Montreal, I dreamed of going to Harvard and playing on the squash team. Not only was Harvard one of the best universities in the world, it also had the best collegiate squash program.
In December of 1982 – nearly 25 years ago – I played in the 12 and under category at the Holiday Junior Squash Tournament at the Harvard Club of Boston. My Mom and Dad drove me and my sister Jordanna ’94 down for the tournament. It was also the first squash tournament my sister ever played in.
In the summers I began attending the Dave Fish squash camp, where I got to know both of my future coaches, Dave Fish and Steve Piltch. A number of the instructors were current or former Harvard players. I also ended up meeting some of my future teammates. My experiences at the camp only strengthened my desire to go to Harvard.
When I arrived as a freshman, I had high hopes for my squash career. I had taken a year off after graduating from high school to focus on squash, and played for Canada at the world junior championships and won the Canadian national junior title. I expected that the Harvard team would continue its streak of six consecutive national intercollegiate championships and that I would also contend for the national individual title. Things did not turn out as I had hoped. We did not win the national team title in either my freshman or sophomore years. I also struggled with injuries and did not play in the national intercollegiate singles championship both years.
In my junior and senior years things started to come together both for the team and for me individually. We won the national intercollegiate team titles in 1991 and 1992. Our 1992 team was one of the best teams Harvard ever fielded, with six All-Americans on the nine-man varsity team.
Individually, the highlight was winning the national intercollegiate singles title on March 1, 1992 – the same day my sister Jordanna won her first women's intercollegiate title (and on her birthday as well). I beat my teammate Adrian Ezra ’94, who had beaten me easily in the finals the year before, in a grueling five game match in which we were both cramping at the end.
Following my graduation in 1992 I played on the professional squash circuit for three years, basing myself in Cambridge, where I continued to practice and train with the Harvard team.
When I look back at my Harvard squash career, I see it as an integral part of my Harvard education. I had a terrific experience as a student-athlete. In the classroom I had the privilege of writing my senior thesis about and under the supervision of John Rawls, arguably the greatest political philosopher of the last 50 years. I also served as a research assistant to Dr. Armand Nicholi Jr. on the conflicting secular and spiritual worldviews of Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, which led to a book and a PBS documentary called "The Question of God".
I also learned a tremendous amount through playing on the squash team about friendship, discipline and character. I formed close relationships with my teammates, who were an incredibly talented and hilarious group of guys. We had so much fun training and competing together. I remember our practices, mornings at the track, trips to tournaments, and above all, hanging out in the cramped coach’s office in Hemenway Gym. Hemenway was run-down, dirty and certainly not befitting of the greatest squash program in the country. But it was steeped in history and tradition. Both before and after practices we would sit on the old, sweat-soaked couches in the coach’s office and hang out and talk, sometimes for hours. We would talk about everything – squash, school, politics and our personal lives. Jack Barnaby, the legendary former squash and tennis coach, would often hold court and regale us with tales of past Harvard greats.
I owe an enormous debt to my coaches Steve Piltch and Dave Fish. Both Steve and Dave are exceptional teachers who played a critical role in my development as a player and as a person. Before I went to Harvard I benefited from their coaching at the summer squash camps. After my struggles with injuries my first two years, Steve helped me to regain my focus and improve my game. He was incredibly dedicated and would always make himself available for extra practice sessions. Although Dave was coaching the Harvard tennis team, he was also still around to provide advice and guidance.
Most importantly, though, they helped me develop my character. In collegiate squash there are no referees and the players are supposed to make their own calls. I would sometimes let my competitive drive get the better of me on the court and not always make the right call. Steve and Dave helped teach me the importance of placing fairness on the court above everything else. It is a lesson that I will never forget.
I would like to thank a number of people. First and foremost my parents. They sacrificed a lot for me and my sister to make our squash and Harvard experiences possible. I would not have received this honour without their support. My sister Jordanna, who joined me at the Holiday Junior Squash Tournament, at Harvard, and who I hope will join me in the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame sometime soon. My coaches in Montreal growing up, Pat Richardson, who taught me how to play, and Kevin Parker. I would like to thank my Harvard teammates – we enjoyed so many great times together both on and off the court. Steve Piltch and Dave Fish, two of the best teachers I had at Harvard. And finally, my wife Martha and our wonderful son Sam.