Geneva, NY – The final day of the 2011 Men’s College Squash Association National Team Championships saw a number of 5-4 matches, including several that came down to the final contest. One of those matches was the Conroy Cup (D Division) final between Hobart and Connecticut College.
Though the two teams were closely matched, their coaches were at very different points in their careers. Chris O’Brien, who had previously been the head squash coach at Rochester, was in his first season with Conn. Carol Weymuller, in her sixteenth season as head men’s squash and tennis coach at Hobart, was retiring at the end of the year. This was the final team match of her college coaching career.
Conn led 4-3 with two matches to go, but both Hobart players won their first game. It was going to go down to the wire.
BY THE TIME Carol Weymuller arrived at Hobart she had already amassed an impressive squash resume. A profile of the 2007 Hall of Fame inductee on U.S. SQUASH’s website notes that as a player Weymuller “was nationally ranked in the top ten a dozen times, won the Rochester city title eleven straight years, and played on the U.S. National team at the 1979, 1981 and 1983 World Championships.” She is the only individual to win the Achievement Bowl (1980) and Sportsmanship Trophy (1984) as well as the President’s Cup (1994).
For all her accomplishments on the court, Weymuller had had an even bigger impact as a coach. The U.S. SQUASH profile goes on to say that
Her most lasting legacy … is her leadership in the advancement of women’s squash. Weymuller started New York City’s women’s league and hosted the first women’s professional tournament in U.S. history with the 1977 Bancroft Open, as well as a women’s pro tournament at the Heights Casino which is now named in her honor. She coached the U.S. Junior Girls’ team at the 1980, 1981 and 1985 World Championships and after 1980 coached at a number of clubs in Rochester.
Weymuller and her husband Fred were particularly instrumental in the development of junior squash in the United States.
“I began squash in Brooklyn NY where Carol and Fred Weymuller started a youth program that became one of the strongest youth programs in the country and continues to produce nationally ranked junior and collegiate players every year,” Alicia McConnell recalls. As a junior, McConnell won two U-17 national titles and three national junior titles, as well as the 1980 world junior title. From there she went on to win multiple national titles and three world doubles titles, representing the US in international competitions and reaching as high as 15th in the world rankings.
McConnell’s success is, of course, exceptional, but she is one of many players who got their start in the game with Weymuller.
“I was fortunate to have been guided into a sport that I really enjoyed by Carol Weymuller. She took me under her wing to assist me in becoming the best American squash player and highly ranked in the world. I will always appreciate the time, energy, expertise and motivation that she instilled in me and I am sure thousands have benefitted from her coaching throughout her extensive career.”
Many of those junior players, like McConnell, went on to play at the college level. Though not all of them won individual titles, as McConnell did three times at Penn, their passion for the sport could be traced back through Weymuller.
Weymuller had already influenced the college game before she ever led a college team, and in 1994 she and Fred were presented with the President’s Cup, U.S. SQUASH’s highest annual honor.
The following year she became the head men’s squash and tennis coach at Hobart.
Over the course of the sixteen seasons that Weymuller led Hobart squash the Statesmen were a consistent presence in the top twenty in the national rankings, reaching as high as tenth.
One of the highlights was the 2003-2004 season, a banner one for Hobart squash. The Statesmen won nine of their first ten matches and went on to finish the season with a 15-9 record, a program best. Along the way they won the Liberty League title, a feat they repeated the next year. A number of Weymuller’s players have earned All-Liberty League honors, and she has twice been named Liberty League Coach of the Year.
Upon her retirement, Weymuller’s 142 careers wins with the Statesmen were the most in Hobart squash history. Her 147 wins with the tennis team was also a school record, making her the all-time wins leader in two sports.
“Carol brought high-ethical standards, sound teaching, and a strong commitment to our student-athletes,” Hobart Director of Athletics Mike Hanna said upon the announcement of Weymuller’s retirement. “We are deeply grateful for her teamwork, dedication, and service.”
However, Weymuller’s impact has not been limited to just the players she has coached or the programs with which she has been involved.
“I have had the privilege to know Carol for very long time and have the highest regards for her knowledge of the game of squash,” says Gail Ramsay, head coach of the Princeton women’s team and the president of the Women’s College Squash Association. “Carol was one of the first (if not the first) women to coach at a high profile club in the US squash community. She worked with girls and boys and developed top nationally ranked players as well as world-class athletes. She coached the US national women’s squad and finally entered the collegiate arena. Her contribution to the US squash scene has not only touched her students but she also helped lead the way for female coaches interested in pursuing their coaching passion.”
Today there are a number of female collegiate coaches, and several — Niki Clement at Haverford, Shona Kerr at Wesleyan, Wendy Lawrence at George Washington, and Jane Parker at Vassar — lead dual men’s and women’s varsity squash programs. When Lawrence took on the GW women this past season, Weymuller became the only woman to be the head coach of an independent (that is, non-dual) men’s varsity program.
Tim Riskie, formerly the assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Allegheny College, will succeed Weymuller as Hobart’s head squash and tennis coach. “I’m excited about the potential of these two teams under Tim’s leadership,” Hanna said in the announcement of Riskie’s hiring. “Tim Riskie inherits two programs grounded in sportsmanship, respect for the game and teamwork. That’s Carol Weymuller’s legacy.”
IF LIFE were like a movie, the 2011 Conroy Cup title would have come down to the final point of the fifth game of the last match, with Hobart pulling off a come-from-behind win, capping Weymuller’s collegiate coaching career with another championship.
The deciding match did go to five games, but it didn’t end in Hobart’s favor. Conn won the title 5-4.
Not a storybook ending, perhaps, but the Hobart players — “my boys,” as Weymuller called them — displayed the sportsmanship and respect for the game Hanna described, smiling in a team photo with their coach after the match.
By modeling grace after a disappointing loss, Weymuller embodied the spirit of her legacy. It’s not about a single win or match or title, just one team or player, but something that extends beyond the immediate moment, affecting the lives of others in myriad ways.
Perhaps that, more fully, is Carol Weymuller’s legacy to college squash.