By Lucy Beecroft '20
Walking into Yale's Payne Whitney Gymnasium (also known as the 'Cathedral of Sweat') for practice every day should be near the top of any student-athlete's gratitude list, especially if you're on the squash team.
As a squash player who grew up in the North East of England, four or five courts were a pretty good number for a squash facility… more and you were lucky. The Brady Squash Centre has 15. If this wasn't a good enough reason for me to choose Yale, there were plenty more to follow.
Throughout my junior squash career, I was fortunate to represent England in several team championships. Even though squash is typically considered an individual sport, I enjoy every opportunity for team play there is. I've always loved being part of a team. The pride of a win and the rebuilding after a loss always feels better when you share the experience with other people.
As a member of the Yale Squash team, I have this experience every day. We currently have 13 women and 15 men who show up to practice every day. Whether it be on court, in the weight room or on the track, every single one of us works as hard as we can to get through our workouts as a team. We might all have different academic interests and career objectives outside of the gym, but during practice we all share the same goal. This is special for me, and not something I ever thought I would be a part of as a squash player.
With aspirations of playing squash professionally, I strive to use the opportunities and resources I have here at Yale to put me in the best possible position when I enter the pro tour. I am thankful to have extremely dedicated coaches around me who are always willing to give me that extra session or that extra piece of advice, whether it be squash or simply life related. They make it easy for us to be excited about sharing our time, both on court and off.
After a good block of training last spring, I played in my first professional tournament in May. That summer, I went back home to the UK and played in a few more of these stepping-stone tournaments, gaining more exposure on the tour and beginning to work on my world ranking. A big breakthrough came in reaching the final of the Bangor Karakal Classic after coming through the qualifying rounds. I beat the number 2 and 3 seeds in the event, who were world ranked 60 and 62. Despite falling to the Number 1 seed in the final, I was very happy with this result and it motivated me to keep working hard.
Whilst training to be the best I can be by the time I graduate, I do so while receiving a world class education and immersing myself in college life here at Yale. I get to take interesting classes, hear from leaders in emerging fields, learn a new language, and experience living in a different continent. It doesn't get better than this.
Lucy Beecroft is a junior from Newcastle, England