Today US Squash inducted four people into the United States Squash Hall of Fame at a gala luncheon before the finals of the 2014 Delaware Investments U.S. Open. It was a remarkable cohort: the two greatest masters players in U.S. history, a legendary player from the 1930s and a pioneer in women’s squash.
Goldie Edwards, eighty years-old, the first person from the Antipodes inducted in the Hall of Fame, is also the oldest to ever start playing squash—she was thirty-two before she first picked up a racquet. Edwards won twenty-eight national masters titles. Beth Rasin, the veteran New York leader, introduced Edwards, giving a warm remembrance of Edwards’ remarkable playing career. Edwards then spoke bout how she fell in love with squash—“A day without squash wasn’t a good day,” she said. She mentioned the many coaches she worked with as she learned the game, including Al Chassard, Jim McQueenie, Doug McLaggan, Tom Rumpler and Mike Way. She ended with a quotation about how you define yourself by your passions and she was so proud that squash was her passion.
Jay Nelson, seventy-four years old, mirrors Edwards in having won twenty-eight masters titles. He went undefeated in his two years on the varsity at Harvard and since then has been a dominant player in New York. Dinny Adams introduced Nelson. Adams, a longtime colleague at the Harvard Club of New York and a teammate of Nelson’s on the U.S. team that played in the first World Championships in 1973 in South Africa. Nelson thanked his Harvard coaches, Jack Barnaby and Corey Wynn. Barnaby, who famously individualized his teaching, told Nelson not to worry about trying to fix his faulty reverse corner but to concentrate on his stronger shots like the boast and roll corner.
Barbara Clement, who died in 1994 at the age of seventy-six, was a giant on and off the court. She won two national doubles titles, represented the U.S. in international singles competitions three times and was a former president of the U.S. women’s association. Anne Monahan, Barbara’s daughter and the longtime squash coach at Sidwell Friends School, spoke with great emotion about her mother’s many athletic interests (she was a tennis line judge at Forest Hills, for instance). She pointed out that in the late 1940s she organized Boston’s first inter-club women’s league, with six participating teams, even though women at the time were only allowed to play at one local club, the Union Boat Club.
Don Strachan, who died in 1970 at the age of sixty, won two national singles titles and lost in the finals a further four times. Sam Howe, the Hall of Famer, introduced Strachan (pronounced “Strawn”). He spoke about Strachan grew up at Germantown Cricket Club and about the classic final of the 1949 National Singles at Merion, where Strachan, with his brilliant backhand played Hunter Lott with his brilliant forehand. (It is the only time since the earliest days of US Squash where the finals of the National Singles were played by two members of the same club on their home courts.) Gail Ramsay accepted the award on behalf of Princeton, where Strachan was a member of the class of 1931 and where he lived for much of his adult life. His daughter, Sandra Froehlich, of Eagle Lake, Maine, was unable to attend the ceremony.
The world’s largest and most vibrant hall of fame—located in historic Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale—the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame is the only major hall with an actual bricks-and-mortar location. There are now fifty-seven inductees. The list includes the two honorary co-chairs of this year’s Open, Hashim Khan and Henri Salaun; the finalists in the first U.S. Open in 1954, both players died this past summer.