By Lydie McKenzie and James Fisch
Published Jan 26, 2016 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Jan 24, 2016 at 10:04 PM ET

Dartmouth’s Lydie McKenzie and James Fisch report on the team’s winter training trip to Northern California.

Dartmouth CollegePalo Alto, CA — This year the Dartmouth Squash Team’s annual training trip took place in Palo Alto, California. After a tough finals period, both squads got a few days off for Thanksgiving before resuming practice in Hanover in preparation for key matches against Harvard, Franklin and Marshall, and George Washington University. Following the intense week of training and matches in Hanover, both teams took to the skies for the cross-country trek to Stanford’s illustrious campus.

Located just a short walk from the Sheraton Hotel, our temporary residence, the Arrillaga Sports Center and its wonderful facilities became the venue for our training. The walk to the courts gave us all a taste of Stanford’s sylvan charm with streets and paths that wound in and out of forested areas. We were all amazed at how well the college’s buildings interacted with the area’s natural landscape, the Stanford Stadium being a prime example. With great courts, a spacious fitness center, basketball courts, yoga rooms, and much more, the sports center provided us with all we needed to hone our craft and focus on the upcoming season. Stanford coach and squash legend Mark Talbott made numerous appearances during practices, and he was extremely generous in lending out his team’s boom box, yoga mats, ice buckets, and more.

2016dartmouthgroupWith two sessions a day, Hansi and Theo did a great job of ensuring we were improving our game as well as taking care of our bodies. A variety of on-court drills, condition games, and feeding sessions saw our squash improve dramatically. Interspersed throughout the trip were challenge matches that gave the players an opportunity to demonstrate their improvement against peers (an opportunity we all relished).

Our recovery runs (much needed after some particularly grueling training sessions) through campus were perhaps the most memorable, as we were able to explore the immense sprawl of the campus and take in the incredible architecture and landscaping. These recovery sessions began with us running down Palm Drive, a straight road lined with palm trees. At the end of the road the famous Oval green is flanked with buildings of all shapes and sizes. Each building, surrounded by pastures of grass or forests of trees, had its own mystic aura imbued with its academic purpose. The Hoover Tower, home of the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, looms above the campus to be seen by all.

After four days of training, the Dartmouth Men’s Basketball team arrived at Stanford to take on the talented Cardinal. To our surprise, many students and alumni came out to support the Big Green and to refuse the Cardinal a home crowd advantage. While our boys fought hard and mounted a comeback in the second half, it was not enough to claim the win.
We spent our day off from training in San Francisco. After a quick stop at In-N-Out Burger, we took the ferry to Alcatraz Island. There we explored the Island and went on an informative and interesting tour about the prison’s history. After making it back to the mainland, we walked around Fisherman’s Wharf and had a team dinner at a seafood restaurant that looked out on the bay.

2016dartmouthpoolWe continued with our training and challenge matches until our final day of the trip. Our final squash practice in Palo Alto consisted of a fun and competitive inter-team doubles tournament, won by sophomore Becky Brownell and freshman Carson Spahr, and an exciting 1-point tournament, which was won by sophomore Alvin Heumann. Stanford coach Mark Talbott joined us for the final of many delicious team dinners. The following morning we were faced with our infamous annual water workout, which involves treading water while having our hands above water. Each rep is a minute followed by a minute’s rest. Perhaps inspired by our earlier trip to Alcatraz (fortunately we were in a heated swimming pool) both teams set a record of thirty reps. Later the same day we headed home with many other holiday travelers, grateful to have had the opportunity to train so hard in such a beautiful place and further bond with our teammates and coaches.