Four years ago, Gordon Reed decided he wanted to play sports as a freshman. Alongside his friends Chris Cramer and Atsushi Hisaka, Reed reformed the Oregon club squash team which had been dormant for a few years.
Now, as the club president, he took the time to preview the upcoming season and share his team’s goal of making noise at Nationals.
It’s interesting coming in with no club squash. What convinced some freshman to go out and reform the team?
I played football in high school and Chris played soccer, so we didn’t have a huge background in squash. My father played recreationally, and once he learned I was going to Oregon, he decided I should have a sport to play indoors. I taught myself the basics, came to Oregon and started the club.
I see squash as more of an east coast sport.
It absolutely is. My freshman year when I told people I played squash, they would say ‘oh, what’s that?’ Easiest thing to say is it’s like racquetball.
What are the differences between the two sports?
The ball is probably the biggest difference. Racquetball is large, super bouncy and you don’t have to run much to go get it. The racquet is longer and skinnier in squash. The court is a little bit different and some of the rules. Like in squash, there is a minimum height you can hit it and there are out-of-bounds.
How competitive is the team this year?
Very competitive. Some club sports run on more of a membership level, but we are very selective, team-oriented. We look for the right kind of person and see if they are interested in joining.
Who is the right kind of person?
Prior squash experience is probably the number one thing. Besides that: character, responsibility, dependability, are they going to work hard and come to practice.
How often do you practice as a club team?
We practice three times a week. We are starting a new thing where we split up the team between the two weekday practices so if you can’t make one you can go to the other. But then we do have a team practice and conditioning on Sundays.
When do matches start?
We open our season on the 24th with Stanford and Cal on the road. The squash season goes October to February. This year, we only have one tournament in the fall and a bunch of stuff in the winter.
How strong is this team?
This is going to be the best team our program has had in the last four years. We have seven returners, which is a big deal for squash. We spent a lot of time investing in these players; they have a lot of experience. We have a core group of five seniors who are some of our best players — the driving force behind this team.
How did you do last year?
Under CSA (Collegiate Squash Association, check) rules we were still an emerging team, so we were only able to bring five to nationals. We were supposed to win our division, but three of the other teams backed out, so all of a sudden we were moved up to the next division. We beat Ithaca College pretty handedly, but lost to Vanderbilt by one game.
So a chance for redemption for this team make it a special season.
We had a bunch of games that went down to the wire in the regular season last year — Cal has eluded us, so we are really looking to score a win against them this year. We also had a big win against USC last season, so it would be great to make it back-to-back. We could really make a big impact this year.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur