Brian Leonard and his son Brian, who is on the Squash team at Yale, won the Apawamis Doubles Club Championship this season, beating out Mac Aube and Natalie Grainger, pictured at right.
By T. R. Shepard
There was a time when an aspiring Rye high school athlete who wished to play a college sport concentrated on a team sport — football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, softball, or lacrosse. What has gone under the radar is the individual sport of squash. In the last 30 years, Rye has arguably produced more college squash players than any other comparative market. But not just any college. The Ivy Leagues (except for Brown), the NESCACS, and other top schools such as Stanford and the University of Virginia offer squash. These colleges field both men’s and women’s teams with rosters that range in size from ten to 20 players. What this means is that squash players can play an amazing sport at very high academic institutions.
So, who do we have to thank for this? The first answer is Peter Briggs (Harvard) and his Apawamis team, but also Natalie Grainger at Westchester Country Club, along with several new programs such as M-Squash Academy, Lifetime Fitness, Westchester Squash, and Chelsea Piers. Rye High School now has a team in the FairWest League (the only public high school Squash league in the country), and Brunswick and Greenwich Academy are regular favorites to win the High School Nationals.
One outstanding Squash player at Apawamis, Brian Leonard, has two daughters who played at Harvard and Princeton, and a son who plays for Yale. How about that for combining a fun competitive sport with a great education?
So, if you are a parent who is looking for that balance, look further than top team sports. Squash is a great lifelong game, and those who pursue it in high school and train and study hard have an opportunity to join a vibrant and high-ranking college community and be part of a team that is well worth the effort.