by Tony Moore
Dickinson is about to kick off a new era of sports, bringing men’s and women’s squash to campus for the 2014-15 winter season. And it’s happening in brand-new facilities with a brand-new coach, Chris Sachvie, fresh from a stint as Brown University’s assistant squash coach.
“I’m enjoying everything,” says Sachvie, who’s building his squad from scratch, “and the team’s coming together really well.” With the Kline Center expansion complete, Sachvie thinks the new facility will help recruit a whole new crop of students—as it helped recruit the new coach himself.
“It was a huge draw for me—being in a building this nice,” he says. “And being here every day is a joy. Having the gym right here and the squash courts so close to campus and being as nice as they are ... it’s a huge recruiting tool and makes my job easier.”
When it came to making his college decision, Sam Portelance ’18, who’s been playing the sport since his first year in high school, says that squash played a role in his choosing Dickinson. Now that he’s here, he’s finding the bigger picture just as enticing.
“I really like the campus, and I’m enjoying my classes—they’re challenging,” he says. “And there are a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things here, so I’m busy all the time.”
One thing occupying some of his time is the team’s practice, which finds most players hitting the court three times per week. The early practice sessions were run by some of the more experienced players, and were optional, but now Sachvie has taken over, and “optional” is no longer the word of the day.
“Since this is our first season, I’m putting people into different roles to help with different aspects of the game,” he says. “We’ll probably split up the captain duties and have a lot of people be involved in the leadership side of it.”
Portelance finds that playing collegiate squash has inspired him to hit the gym harder than he did in high school, but he notes that the game isn’t strictly about how strong players are and how hard they can hit the ball.
“You can’t power through all the points,” he says, noting that there is a chess-like strategic quality to the game. “There’s a lot of finesse.” It might be that power plus finesse plus experience builds the better squash player, as Portelance learned recently when he played his new coach: “He destroyed me,” he says with a laugh.
Although the 2014-15 squash season is only just getting underway, Sachvie already is looking ahead and thinking about future players he’d like to see step onto those spanking-new Kline Center courts.
“We’ve had quite a few good players come in for a tour that I’m hoping to recruit, and when they see the facilities and see that they’re on par with some of the best schools in the country, it adds that legitimacy,” he says. “Here, squash is on display, and that’s pretty clear just walking into this building.”
If you don’t know much about this fast-paced game, you can get a brief overview in "Squash 101."
Published October 16, 2014