Charlottesville, VA. January, 2017 – The vision for the squash program at the University of Virginia and its world-renowned facility, McArthur Squash Center, has always extended beyond the University. “The goal,” according to Head Coach Mark Allen, “has been for McArthur and the teams at UVA to open a gateway and provide a platform for the game to expand into the Southeast, especially at colleges and universities in the region.” This year’s inaugural University of Virginia Squash Home Round Robin, which will take place at McArthur the weekend of February 3-5, launches a campaign to promote the development of squash programs at schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference and beyond.
The Virginia squash program’s success in its first four years, capped by top-20 national rankings for both men’s and women’s teams in 2016, signaled that the essential groundwork for the sport’s progress at UVA is sound. This, in turn, provided the executive board of the Friends of Virginia Squash with the motivation and confidence to address the squash landscape beyond the University. The board’s efforts to enlarge and enrich that landscape begin with the 2017 Round Robin Event at MSC.
Thus far, the board has established a dedicated fund that will finance the UVA Round Robin for three years. This will cover the cost of organizing, hosting, and marketing the event, as well as hotel accommodations for competing teams.
For the UVA players, the event will provide unprecedented visibility for the sport on grounds. But of greater import for the players is the long term vision that they are helping to realize. In a joint statement, senior co captains of the women’s and men’s teams, Lindsay Bralower and Stewart Staunton, were quick to move the focus beyond the UVA squads, noting “When we arrived here, we knew that the Virginia program was poised to make major moves up in the rankings under Coach Allen’s leadership. What we didn’t realize was that as UVA squash players, we would also be part of the broader effort to bring the sport to a new region and new colleges and universities. That has been a very rewarding aspect of the experience and one that we hope future teams will perpetuate.”
The debut event will feature men’s teams from eight schools: UVA, UNC, Duke, Sewanee, Notre Dame, Boston College, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest. The women’s draw will be made up of teams from five institutions: UVA, Fordham, University of California, Berkeley, Washington University, and Johns Hopkins.
Board president Francis Johnson notes that the Invitational provides a unique opportunity to foster the growth of the sport at the collegiate level. “This event will be a marketable and visible showcase for the sport as played by club teams from ACC-affiliated universities. Given Virginia’s experience and our resources, we hope to play a prominent role in helping other programs build for the long term. But really, the fundamental goal is to facilitate the growth of intercollegiate squash. Establishing a tradition of tournament competition is a logical first step in that pursuit. We are excited to initiate that first step and to help foster a vibrant college squash community in our region and beyond.”
Mike Odrich, a member of the Friends of Virginia Squash Board and father to Virginia player Jarett Odrich (’19), adds “The parents of UVA squash players are excited to support this tournament and hope that the three years’ worth of funding we have raised will soon grow to five years’ worth, ten years’ worth, even a perpetual endowment. We also hope that the efforts from UVA parents and the success that these have yielded will provide confidence and show parents from other schools that investing in college squash here in the Southeast is an absolutely viable prospect.”
For more information on the event, please visit the Virginia Squash website at www.virginiasquash.com or email UVA assistant coach Grant White at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in contributing financial support for the Invitational, please email Mark Allen at email@example.com.