The third-annual Character in Sports Day, presented by the Paul Miller Auto Group at the Delaware Investments U.S. Open, featured a festive and emotional reception. Throughout the past 112 years, US Squash has celebrated character: courtesy, fair play, graciousness and an abiding sense of respect and fellowship with opponents. Because of the uniqueness of squash—unlike most other racquet sports, squash opponents physically share the same space—sportsmanship is a core value of the game.
Kevin Klipstein, the president and CEO of US Squash welcomed guests to Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center. He acknowledged the many former winners of sportsmanship awards in attendance, including the DeRoy Junior Sportsmanship Award, the Feron’s Wedgwood Sportsmanship Trophy, the Men’s Sportsmanship Award, the collegiate individual (Skillman and Richey Awards) and collegiate team (Sloane and Chaffee Awards). In particular, Klipstein praised Mona Butterfield, the 2015 Feron’s Wedgwood Trophy, US Squash’s oldest sportsmanship award, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Paul Miller then spoke. The Paul Miller Auto Group was the presenting sponsor of Character in Sports Day. They operate ten car dealerships in northern New Jersey, as well as Paul Miller Racing, a WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team.
Klipstein gave Michael Gough the A. Carter Fergusson Grand Master Honor Roll. “I’m thrilled to see the expansion of squash in the U.S.,” Gough said, thanking his coaches in Atlanta: Tom Rumpler, Richard Millman and Ahmed Hamza. Gough has won six U.S. masters titles and two British ones but the one that really changed everything was winning a world masters title in 2014. “You have a big target on your back—everyone wants to beat a world champion.” Gough grew up in England, playing squash in Sussex and at Tonbridge School in Kent. He’s one of five Americans to capture a World Masters title.
The A. Carter Fergusson Grand Masters Honor Roll, established in 2010, is named after the Cal Ripkin of squash. After leading Yale to a national title his senior year, Carter Fergusson played in sixty-two consecutive National Singles tournaments from 1948 to 2009. The Fergusson is given to men and women who follow his example of squash as a lifetime sport.
It was a special moment at the reception to have Fergusson, who just turned ninety-three late last month, and his wife Dudy present at the ceremony.
It was equally special because one of Fergusson’s heirs, Richard Chin, was given the Robert W. Callahan Men’s Sportsmanship Award. Both Paul Assaiante, the men’s coach at Trinity, and Kristen Callahan, Bob’s wife, spoke movingly about Bob Callahan. The longtime coach at Princeton who died last year, Callahan was “the moral compass” in squash, according to Assaiante. “My big fear was that we’d forget to keep his spirit alive, but this award will keep him in our memories forever.”
“The very heart of the game is sportsmanship,” Kristen Callahan added. “and Bob is smiling tonight.”
Klipstein, a teammate of Richard Chin at Cornell, spoke of some of Chin’s accomplishments. Besides being a wonderful sportsman, he was inducted into the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame; he was a founding board member of StreetSquash; he served on the board of US Squash for eight years; and he coached Team USA’s women to a seventh-place finish at the World Team Championships in New Zealand in 2010, their best result in a quarter century.
One Fergusson-esque detail of Chin’s career: he played in the men’s National Singles open draw—the SL Green—every year from 1990 through 2014. It is an all-time US Squash record for constancy in the open singles draw: even Fergusson himself moved on from the open draw to age-group draws before two decades lapsed.
Chin spoke eloquently of the many friendships he’s made in the game and in particular about Callahan himself, who was a role model for Chin as soon as he arrived in the country in 1981.
Previous winners of the Callahan are Ed Chilton (2014) and Rich Sheppard (2015).