Bronx, NY — It is with great sadness that the College Squash Association marks the death of former Fordham head squash coach Bob Hawthorn. Hawthorn died on Sunday at the age of 80.
Hawthorn graduated from Fordham in 1953 and was a standout tennis and squash player for the Rams. He began coaching at Fordham in 1956 and led the squash and tennis teams for over 50 years, retiring in 2010. He also taught at Fordham Prep from 1958 to 2005 and became a registered nurse in 1985.
Hawthorn and his wife Eileen also raised seven children, who all attended Fordham and either played for their father or helped manage one of his teams. In recent years, several of his children also assisted Hawthorn in coaching.
In 1998, Hawthorn became the first recipient of the College Squash Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was inducted into the Men’s College Squash Hall of Fame in 2005. When the Men’s National Team Championships expanded to include a seventh division in 2009, the CSA named the new division in Hawthorn’s honor.
At the time of his retirement, many of Hawthorn’s former colleagues commented on his commitment to “developing the person through the medium of squash,” in the words of women’s College Squash Association president Shona Kerr.
Paul Assaiante, whose Trinity men recently won their thirteenth consecutive national team championship, remembered that “Bob was wonderful to me as I started out my career at West Point. Always kind and supportive, Bob will be missed.”
Dave Talbott, who coached the Yale women to the 2011 national team title and Millie Tomlinson to the 2011 women’s individual title, described Hawthorn as an “amazing man who those of us who have been around long enough have learned a lot from that does not have anything to do with hitting the ball.”
Former Fordham players also have shared many fond memories of their coach. Bill Andruss, a 1975 graduate of Fordham and a two-time All-American, offered the following recollection to FordhamSports.com:
Bob was a handsome, good looking man, always well-dressed, always aware that this was about much more than squash. It was about respect, fair play, gentlemanly behavior and hard work, all the while cognizant of the fact that we represented Fordham.
His encouragement and his desire to extract the best from his players will always stand out for me. My very first intercollegiate match took place on a cold December day at West Point. Paired against a very fit opponent on the exhibition court, I lost the first point of the match. Glancing up at the gallery, I saw Bob, the lone civilian standing among seventy-five gray uniforms who were screaming at the top of their lungs and stomping on the floor to create even more of a ruckus. With that little smile of his, he shot me a look that said, “We may be outnumbered, but I’m behind you all the way.” I can remember how proud he was after the match and unafraid to show it. The encouragement he offered me that day has stayed with me to this day.
It is perhaps fitting that a man who contributed to the lives of so many players died on the final day of the 2011 college squash season. Though no Fordham players participated in the Individual Championships, the athleticism, determination, and sportsmanship of the players who did compete reflect the spirit of Hawthorn’s many contributions to college squash.
That spirit, which lives on in so many players, is part of his legacy to the sport. He will indeed be missed.