Yesterday I got to see the end of the first-ever Collegiate Club Championships. Officially it was the 2022 College Squash Association National Collegiate Men’s/Co-Ed and Women’s Club Team Championships and someday it will have a neat nickname.
For now it is brimming with possibility. The CSA carved out all the non-varsity programs into their own tranche. It worked well. At one end of 33rd Street at Penn, thirty-three varsity men’s teams competed in the National Collegiate Teams. It was a brilliant weekend overall (with just a few examples of poor sportsmanship and one team having eight members stuck in an elevator for an hour marring an otherwise exciting tournament). Penn v. Harvard in the final was the nail-biting exclamation point: literally one point the other way and Penn could have captured its first men’s national team title.
But up 33rd three blocks at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center and we had twenty-seven club teams duking it out in the Collegiate Club Teams. The enthusiasm and variety was breathtaking. You had five women’s teams and a bunch of co-ed squads. You had almost beginners, players who had only picked up the game a few months ago, and you had some with vast junior experience. You had teams that get literally not a dime from their university and don’t have standard courts and teams with a lot of support and beautiful facilities.
You had schools that also had a varsity team competing at Penn (Cornell and Penn); you had teams from storied Big Five power conference schools (Michigan, Ohio State, UNC, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Indiana). You had perhaps the oldest and most steadfast club team in history, Cal-Berkeley’s right next to some teams that had only been formed in the past couple of years. You had a squad all the way from Arizona State.
And you had classic rivalry match-ups—Lehigh v. Lafayette; Cal v. Stanford, and if Harvard had a women’s club team, there could have been a proper squash Beanpot (with BC, BU and Northeastern all fielding squads).
With hundreds of squash courts at collegiate facilities around the country, getting more clubs teams is a significant proposition. Don’t be surprised if the Collegiate Club Teams doubles in size before the end of the decade.