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Posts Tagged Trinity College squash

Joys Of A Passionate Fan

Johan (left) and Tommy

Johan (left) and Tommy

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.

Johan and Bill Belichick, head coach of New England Patriots

Johan and Bill Belichick, head coach of New England Patriots

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.

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Trinity’s Squash Coach Writes About The Team’s Loss In National Finals

Trinity on left, Princeton on right, Princeton Coach Callahan talks about his team's victory

Trinity College’s men’s squash team won the national championship 13 years in a row under the guidance and leadership of Coach Paul Assiante. The team also set a record of winning 252 matches in a row, an historic success that only this year was interrupted by Yale’s long-sought victory. (Search Trinity College on this site, and you can read many of the stories I have written about these achievements) Paul’s book describes how he/they did it, how he built character in his boys, how they rose to the occasion in 2009, when they beat Princeton 5-4 in the last of nine matches on the Tigers home court. I was there then to scream and see victory won in the fifth game of the ninth match, when Baset Chaudry came from behind at 0-5 to win the game 9-5. Monumental excitement.

colorful Princeton Tiger fan

Yesterday Trinity fell to Princeton in the Nationals, and I was there to watch the effort, hear the Princeton fans’ cheers and whistles as their long-awaited victory edged closer and closer, and to tell the saddened Trinity players afterward that they had given it their best.

When I wrote to Coach Assiante this morning, here is what he sent back to me. As one friend wrote me back, “it brings tears to my eyes.”

Dear Friends of Trinity
For the last 13 years on this Monday I woke up happy. Happy because our men had brought another national championship home to the college
Today I woke up proud. I have never ever been more proud to be at Trinity, to be a bantam and of a group of young men.

Yesterday we lost in the finals to Princeton 5-4 in the national finals to a terrific Princeton squad and I could not be more happy for my dear friend coach Bob Callahan. He is a class act and he has waited a long time for this.
Our path to the finals was challenging in that after losing mid season to Yale and seeing the streak slip away, we rebounded beautifully and won the remainder of our matches.
In the quarter finals we beat Franklin and Marshall but did not play well. Against Harvard in the semi finals we won a mighty battle that finished Saturday night at 9pm
Fifteen hours late we were standing on court in front of a large and boisterous Princeton crowd to play for the crown
We went down 1-2 after the first round, but came roaring back to go up 4-2. Sadly our men could not hold off the tigers and saw the lead slip away to a 4-5 loss

So why would I be proud you might ask
During the award ceremony both teams lined up to receive their awards and to congratulate each other. I looked into the eyes of everyone of our guys and there was not a dry eye in the house.
This loss hurt them deeply!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The boys went “all in” ! They completely exposed themselves and as a result they felt the full pain of defeat. That is living life to the fullest. Most people never take the chance to experience either the elation of victory or the devastating sting of defeat
They congratulated Princeton with class, and walked out of that facility visibly shaken but like men!
In life you are remembered not for what you do, but for how you do it.
This is a group that will be remembered as courageous and classy. Vince Lombardi said “show me a good loser, and I will show you a loser”
When we stopped on the garden state parkway to eat two hours later they were still crying.
These men are not losers
They are champions, and they represented this game, this program and this college in the absolute finest ways possible.

Please join me in raising a metaphorical glass to these young men.
I could not be any more proud.
Coach A

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Yale Defeats Trinity In Men’s Squash, Ending 13-Year Winning Streak

Trinity fans tense up as their team heads toward defeat

Well it’s probably my fault that while I was away skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, I was not at Yale cheering as usual at a tough squash contest between the Yale Bulldogs and my favorite team, the Trinity Bantams. So Trinity lost! As you may recall, I have been a groupie for the team for 4-5 years now, ever since my daughter played squash in high school, and her coach told me to watch the best college team in the country in Hartford, only an hour away. My wife and I have been going to many of the away games as well, supporting the team members, whom we met and liked, and yelling as loudly as anybody possibly could. I have written about some of these victories in the past. Amazingly the match once again came down to the ninth and last contest and the fifth and last game. Agonizing. In spite of the pain of defeat, I wish I had been there for the excitement and tension.

Trinity's Johan Detter hears advice prior to the final match

Yale fans rejoice...as they should for such an historic win

A friend told me about Trinity’s loss after our tennis match. He was very considerate to wait until after the tennis game to give me the bad news…and he was an opponent! Of course I was stunned. I was out of it too, given all the travel and attempts to survive the dangers of skiing after a year-long absence from the slopes.

I feel badly for the team and coach, whom I have known for years as well. Coach Paul Assiante has a great book about his success you might want to read, called Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear. It’s a very exciting insight into the team, a close national match at Princeton, and how to motivate people to perform at their best.

Now here is the Hartford Courant’s story by Jeff Nowak about the inevitable day that Paul always said would come. Photos are by Bettina Hansen. If you want more detail about this historic match and its aftermath, here is a lengthy New York Times article.

Trinity's coach (rt) gives congratulatory hugs to Yale's coach Dave Talbott as Yale team members celebrate their victory

All things must end, or at least that’s the adage John Roberts and the Yale Bulldogs squash team announced to the world Wednesday night, January 18th, as they put to bed the longest winning streak in varsity intercollegiate sports history.

Trinity had won 252 consecutive matches, including 13 national championships, until Roberts’ dominant victory over Johan Detter in the fifth set of the final match of the day gave the bulldogs the 5-4 win at Brady Squash Center at Yale.

“Going into today I knew I was going to be on last, so I was hoping I was going to have a chance to win it for us,” said Roberts. “In the fifth you realized it was just a grind. Luckily, I got a good start and I was able to close it out.”

Trinity head coach Paul Assaiante said his team is still getting better, and having the streak over isn’t as much of a relief as he expected it to be. “Losing sucks, not a relief,” said Assaiante. “This isn’t fun, I hate losing, but this is only going to make us stronger.” Read the rest of this entry »

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