US Squash, under the leadership of Adam Hamill and Bill Buckingham, hosted a two-day conference during the Delaware Investments U.S. Open. More than a hundred people came to Squash Summit 2015: Drive the Future of Squash. Attenders included teaching professionals, coaches, club owners, event promoters and district leaders. It was an opportunity to have sustained, meaningful discussions and focus on best practices. “We had a fantastic conference,” said Adam Hamill, the director of the Squash Summit 2015. “It was a great schedule of presenters and we had a tremendously positive response from all our attenders.”
Lisa Baird was the keynote speaker for Squash Summit 2015. Baird, the chief marketing officer at the United States Olympic Committee, discussed the innovative marketing platforms she has created since joining the USOC in 2009. Having worked previously at the NFL and IBM, Baird expertly discussed how to raise brand awareness, expand digital footprints and strengthen value propositions.
John Flanigan, the athletic director at the University Club of Chicago, eloquently used Jonah Barrington’s classic 1982 squash manual, Murder in the Court, as a platform to discuss best practices for private club professionals.
Jessica Kruskamp, the senior director of education at New York Junior Tennis & Learning, spoke about the mission of NYJT&L and how similar organizations can frame their work to outside audiences. Arthur Ashe founded NYTJ&L in 1969 and today the after-school program serves 75,000 at eighty-four locations around New York City with a $15 million annual budget. This summer NYTJ&L opened a $26 million, twenty-two court facility in the South Bronx.
Roy Gingell, the World Squash Federation’s director of refereeing, argued that the arc of educating referees should mirror the arc of educating players from a young age. Squash associations need to train referees at a young age rather than wait until they are adults. US Squash is at the forefront of this movement with 4,000 certified referees: all junior tournament players are required to be certified and many sanctioned adult district leagues, like Massachusetts SRA, make it a league requirement. Everyone—coaches, players, officials—need to be on the same page, Gingell stated, pointing to rugby and cricket, sports where players never dissent.
Kenneth Shropshire, a professor at the Wharton School at Penn, talked about racial diversity and the differences in how racial incidents in sports were covered twenty or thirty years ago to how they are covered now. The author of ten books and a host on Sirius XM, Shropshire discussed his latest project, a non-profit called the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, that he has launched with Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins. A few hours after his talk, the New York Times ran a long article announcing the creation of RISE and referred to Shropshire.
On the second day, Danielle Maur started off the conference. For the past decade, Maur has been the national squash director at Life Time Fitness, which has forty-one clubs around the country with a total of 111 squash courts. Now also in charge of tennis and racquetball at Life Time Fitness, Maur spoke about how she develops programs that engage and retain members.
Eric Zillmer, Drexel’s athletic director; Wendy Lawrence, the men’s and women’s coach at George Washington; Wendy Bartlett, the women’s coach at Trinity; and Luke Hammond, an assistant coach at Harvard, all spoke about college squash. They discussed topics such as recruiting, interviewing, financial aid, international students and drugs and alcohol on college campuses.
Till Jonuleit, a sales manager for the global court manufacturer ASB, and Tom Rumpler, a longtime squash pro and director of the Midtown Athletic Club in Atlanta, spoke about innovative court construction. Jonuleit discussed turning one tennis court into five squash courts. Rumpler discussed building a club within a club, an innovative approach to developing accessible squash facilities.
Alex Wakefield Wessner, Ryan Underwood Wall, Shawn Dragann and Chris Gordon spoke about the Public Squash Foundation. The Foundation is building all-glass, all-weather squash courts in public parks in New York City. Gordon, the world No. 61, is the chief ambassador for Public Squash.
Amy Gross, the former Penn assistant and founder of Pillars4Performance, a coaching and consulting firm; and Donald Barrett, a sports consultant and hypnotist, discussed the relationship between developing a winning mindset and achieving success.
Barrett Takesian, the founder and director of the Portland Community Squash program in Maine, talked about the current PCS program at a YMCA and his hopes to build a community-based facility in the near future that will house both junior and adult players as well as an urban squash program.
AJ Kohlepp, a coach at Berkshire School and advisor to Green Mountain Squash; and Dave Reiss, the chair of the Fairwest Public High School Squash Association, spoke about non-traditional squash environments. Kohlepp discussed Green Mountain Squash, a summer program for rural teenagers. Reiss discussed the FWPSSA, the first successful public school league in the country. Founded in 2008, the league now encompasses dozens of middle and high school teams from Fairfield and Westchester counties outside New York City.
Jaret Posmentier, the vice president of Sharp Communications, a public relations firm in New York, reported on the 2015 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, which was a test case about the marketing of an iconic squash event.
Tommy Berden, the chief commercial officer of the PSA, spoke about the merger of the WSA and PSA in 2015 and the future prospects of the global professional tour.
Squash Summit 2015 concluded with the US Squash Annual Assembly. For the past six years, US Squash has hosted an Annual Assembly at the Delaware Investments U.S. Open. It is a forum where members come to talk about the Association, elect board members, address issues of concern and delve into particular areas of discussion. Keynote speakers at past assemblies have included Alex Gough, the PSA’s CEO, in 2011, James Zug, Squash Magazine’s senior writer, in 2012, and Mike Lee, the director of squash’s Olympic bid, in 2013.
This year’s assembly formally approved three members to the board of directors: Amrit Kanwal, Linda Robinson and Sandy Tierney. John Fry, the chair of the board, gave a state of the Association. Kevin Klipstein, the CEO, then outlined the Association’s current and future programs. A lengthy question-and-answer discussion then concluded the assembly.