On February 12th, I watched the Trinity College men’s squash team beat Harvard 5-4. It was the third time Harvard has lost to Trinity by that close score in just the seven years I have been following Trinity and traveling to Boston to be in the lion’s den there. One of the most critical contests was when Trinity’s Johan Detter was playing in the number six position against Tommy Mullaney and was behind in the fifth game, 8-10. Harvard needed just one point to win that early game. But Johan fought tirelessly and won the game 12-10. What a victory. Number six is just the first wave (3-6-9), and Trinity won all three matches.
The next rotation was stronger for Harvard, winning two out of three. The last wave would be the decider, and Harvard won two more right away, so the teams were tied 4-4. But Trinity closed it with a decisive win, squeaking through yet once again. I was proud to cheer along with the enthusiastic Trinity fans who had made the trek to Beantown.
One of the parents in the stands near me earlier was Tommy Mullaney’s father. I expressed my sympathies. After the match was over, I saw him again and talked to his son. Though I was glad he had lost, I also felt sad about how he might take his defeat. Harvard hasn’t beaten Trinity in the last 24 years. And he was so close. You often see movies in which the mature man in his 40s or 50s has lived a depressed or dismal life after dropping the catch that would have been the winning touchdown or the last out. So I wondered how this will affect Tommy’s life. In the movie Parenthood, Steve Martin complains that his complete happiness is dependent on whether or not his son catches a baseball pop up hit to the kid in the outfield.
But I sensed how important that early, close win was to the team match, and was relieved when Tommy was unable to close the deal. I was awed that Johan came back under so much pressure. I was ecstatic that Trinity won again.