Hanover, NH — On a picture-perfect, warm autumn weekend this September in New Hampshire, Dartmouth celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of its men’s squash team and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the women’s team.
More than a hundred Big Green former players, parents, coaches—and their spouses and kids—came to Hanover for the gala, the first of its kind for Dartmouth squash. Joined by the current men’s and women’s teams, it made for a vibrant and memory-filled time. There were cocktail parties, lunches and a private tour of the Hood Museum, Dartmouth’s art museum; a spirited early morning golf outing at the Hanover Country Club; an afternoon of squash matches; and a fabulous dinner outside the main Dartmouth gym.
Most of the 115 years of combined Dartmouth squash was visible in the former head coaches who attended. Aggie Bixler Kurtz had founded the women’s team in 1972 and coached it until 1989. Despite suffering from giaradia and the rigors of more halls of fame inductions (she has her sixth this fall), Kurtz played a great round of golf and attended the many functions with her husband Tom. Kirk Randall (assistant 1974-77, head 1977-80) came up from Massachusetts where he has retired after a post-Dartmouth career at the University Club of Boston and Exeter. Two other locals came: Chuck Kinyon (1980-89), who came over Queechee where he still coaches tennis, and Jim McCracken (1989-93), the first coach to be in charge of both the men’s and women’s teams. Chris Brownell ’87 (1993-98) naturally attended, as she is one of the co-chairs of the Friends of Dartmouth Squash. Former assistants Taylor Thomas ‘88, Lex Miron ‘93 and Ken Cucuel were present, as was Dick Hoehn ’59, who was Dartmouth’s first three-time All American and the son of the Big Green legend, coach Red Hoehn (1938-63).
The Friends of Dartmouth Squash was started in 1980 (it had informally existed before then as an adjunct to the tennis program). For seventeen years in the 1980s and 90s, Jack Herrick chaired the Friends, leading the effort in 1986-87 to build Dartmouth’s first new courts since the 1930s and then the retrofitting of the courts to softball in 1994-95. Herrick, just inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame, was in Hanover as well, even though he was missing the dedication of a 52,000 square-foot academic building that he helped build at the University School in Cleveland.
Some of the most-watched matches on the Saturday afternoon were amongst some of the former All Americans, often joined by Dartmouth’s current #1 star, Chris Hanson. They included Beau River ‘00, Lex Miron, Hamed Anvari ‘02 and Sasha Greatreaux Proudlove ‘95
At the gala dinner, Brownell and Jim Zug, the other co-chair, hosted an illustrious group of speakers. Steve Mandell ’78, the chair of Dartmouth’s board of trustees, spoke about how playing squash at Dartmouth had positively impacted his life. Hansi Wiens, who is entering his fourth season as the Dartmouth squash coach, discussed the present and future of the program. Harry Sheehy, the Dartmouth athletic director, went over the various initiatives aimed at supporting Dartmouth’s athletes. Digger Donahue ’73 talked about Dartmouth squash and how he loves to play so much that he has sent racquets to all Brown Brothers Harriman offices around the world (he’s the managing partner of the financial services giant), so that he doesn’t have to bring racquets wherever he goes.
The spectacular news topped off a wonderful weekend of fellowship and renewed friendship.
Editor’s Note: James Zug, Squash Magazine’s senior writer, is also well known to squash fans. He played collegiate squash at Dartmouth College, and in 2003 he wrote Squash: A History of the Game. He also teamed up with Trinity coach Paul Assaiante to write Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear.
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Bambury and Dartmouth College.