Despite a 9-0 loss to Franklin and Marshall on Sunday, the GW men’s squash team was surprisingly upbeat. That’s because the team believes its troubles are over. The Colonials were plagued by a series of coaches, injuries and restrictions that contributed to the team’s drop from 22nd to 30th in the country last year. But now they are under the guidance of new coach Wendy Lawrence.
“We couldn’t expect to win this match. (Franklin and Marshall is) a very, very good team,” senior Alex Funk said. “But it’s going really well (with Lawrence), so I’m expecting that (the season is going to improve).”
The turnover of coaches began two years ago when coach Simon Harrington abruptly departed, leaving the team stranded. Professional squash player Jude Odeh came in last year as an interim coach, only to be replaced by Lawrence in mid-September.
“The team was upset with (Odeh). He had poor organizational skills and wasn’t very good at communicating what he expected,” senior Stefan Georg said. “There’s just a number of things that caused the team to lose faith and respect for the coach, so we complained and got a new coach and we’re very happy with her. In general she seems to know what she’s doing.”
Although the team solved its coaching conundrum, it still faces many obstacles on the road to its ultimate goal: to move up in the national rankings, which will lead to better recruiting. Of the four freshmen on this year’s squad, only one, Nick Gross, who plays in the third spot, was formally recruited. Freshman Mike Bower, a walk-on, said he was aware the school’s team was not very well-established, inspiring him to try out.
“I knew GW had an up-and-coming team that wasn’t especially well-known so I was hoping that I could (join) and see if we could, as a team, bring it back up over the next few years,” Bower said.
The team’s relative anonymity is one of the issues Lawrence said she hopes to correct.
“The trouble is we have a small roster,” she said. “We’re only allowed to carry 12, and most other schools carry about 16. We have two kids who are abroad and we have to count them on our roster. We virtually have no depth, so we’re on that edge where we can’t afford to have injuries.”
But the Colonials do. Gross is suffering from shin splits and senior Jarryd Commerford is recovering from a weak ankle.
With so many obstacles to overcome, it seems that the best the Colonials can hope to do is try and take down teams that are ranked above them. Next week they face No. 22 Stanford at the Navy Squash Invitational, which Lawrence said she believes could potentially propel her squad.
And Georg said he things a victory is possible.
“Sometimes,” he said, “there are upsets.”