Know Your Team, Sports

Know Your Team: Squash Club 

Still riding high from their season results in the 2023-24 Ontario Jesters University Squash League, members of the squash team made their way to The Tribune office to give some insight on one of McGill’s lesser-known teams. Although they still do not have varsity status, the McGill squash team has been revitalized in the last couple of years, especially following the cancelled COVID-19 season in 2020-21. This year, the team had the chance to benefit from the guidance of Yvon Provençal,  who coached the national Canadian squash team for over 15 years. This expertise contributed to the team’s success, with the women taking first place, putting an end to Queen’s University’s eight-year reign, and the men taking fourth. 

This season, the team decided to push for more cohesion between the women’s and men’s teams, with the hope of fostering a stronger team spirit. This camaraderie helped the team grow, both on and off the court. 

“We do a lot of socials, we have a very good team dynamic [….] When we go to tournaments and stuff, everyone always comments on how we’re a very big team community,” the former co-captain of the men’s team, Mo Kamal, told The Tribune.

Being the only university team from the province, the squad benefits from the support of Squash Québec and its community. Players regularly connect with junior players as well, and participate in initiatives such as Urban Squash, a non-profit that aims to demystify squash for the greater public. 

“The eventual goal would obviously be to have other teams in Quebec,” women’s team co-captain Isabel Smith explained. “It’d be really awesome to get to compete against Concordia and UdeM [Université de Montréal] and stuff, but we’re really grateful for all the support [the squash community] gives us—we’re really lucky to have that.” 

Despite their best efforts, the team still faces some challenges, especially in the area of finances. The team is self-funded and organizes frequent fundraiser initiatives. As part of the 2023 M24 Challenge, the team was able to raise $10,250 before the donor matched-up amplification.

“Because we don’t receive any direct funding from the school, these kinds of donations are hugely important to our ability to travel,” Smith co-captain furthered. “If we didn’t have very generous donors, we really wouldn’t be able to do it. So we’re very grateful for those people and we really hope they show up again.”

This budget is crucial for the team’s activities and logistics. The team must scrap together funding by being frugal and resourceful, especially regarding transportation. 

“[Our priority] was more going to all these tournaments, whilst simultaneously representing McGill by having a jumper,” Joseph White, current men’s team co-captain explained. “The most important thing was ensuring we had a car to go to that tournament, ensure we had the means to go and play, which is what we all want to do.”

Ultimately, the team hopes to one day gain varsity status. Building off of their existing relationship with McGill Athletics and their collaborations on events such as Active Living, where members of the team coach other players.

“We want to work together [with McGill Athletics] because at the end of the day, our common goal is to grow the sport,” Kamal explained. “It’s also showing our collaboration with them,  […] because it’s a mutual relationship where we need them and […] we’re offering our help.”

Looking at the future, the graduating members of the team remain confident in the prosperity of the teams for the years to come. 

“I’m confident that it’ll continue going because I can see that our members and players are dedicated, they want to keep the team going and keep it growing.” Jasmine Boucley, women’s team co-captain, said.

In the leadership’s eyes, the teams have clear goals in mind. 

“We want to just keep on going getting better results on the men’s team, the women’s team, keep maintaining the wins,” Kamal concluded. “Hopefully, even if we can get into the championships, so it’s always about expanding and staying motivated.”

The squash team will be participating in McGill’s 2024 M24 Challenge, taking place on Mar. 13. The team is also organizing another fundraising event Mar. 23–24, teaching beginners and organizing matches with the team

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