NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale senior John Roberts solidified his place in college squash lore with his epic 3-2 win over Trinity's Johan Detter in the match that broke the Bantams' 13-year win streak and catapulted the Bulldogs to the top of the college squash world. But Roberts may not be done making history: the Belfast, Ireland native was recently named one of six nominees for the Skillman Award, the "Heisman Trophy" of College Squash.
That honor is awarded annually to a senior men's squash player who has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship during his entire college career. Clearly, in Roberts's case, some on-court success didn't hurt either. He posted a 9-2 record in regular season matches this season, a strong follow-up to his 11-8, 9-4, and 7-6 records in his junior, sophomore, and freshman seasons, respectively. Roberts, whose brother Joseph is a freshman on the Bulldog squad, gave Yale a dependable presence at the No. 4 spot for much of this season.
But Roberts's nomination depended as much on that impressive on-court resume as the one he's built off it. Central to that is a reputation for fair refereeing and in-match composure, not a given for a player often involved in high-pressure, hotly-contested matches. Said Yale head coach Dave Talbott of Roberts in the College Squash Association's release of the nominees, "Even though he is often the person playing the high pressure games for us, those matches never seem to get contentious, as he plays fair and clean...he is well loved by all his teammates and coaches, and respected by his opponents."
Roberts is a political science major and volunteer for Squash Haven, an urban squash program in New Haven that provides local students with competitive squash training, tutoring, and mentoring. The Trumbull College resident is one of three Irishmen on Yale's team, along with his brother and sophomore Neil Martin. If chosen as the winner, Roberts would be the third Bulldog to win the award, which is named after former Yale head coach John Skillman. Skillman coached the Elis for 41 years and to 16 National Titles while accumulating an astounding 451-77 record.
View the college squash association's release of the nominees here: http://collegesquashassociation.com/2012/02/15/2012-mens-college-squash-skillman-award-nominees/
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity