by Christian Payne
Dickinson has announced the hiring of Chris Fernandez as the new head coach of the men’s and women's squash programs. Fernandez becomes the second head coach in the history of the program, succeeding Chris Sachvie, who served as Dickinson's head coach since the program's inception in 2014. Sachvie accepted a coaching position at Columbia University.
"Chris Fernandez is a young man of great character," says Interim Director of Athletics Joel Quattrone. "We’re excited to see the enthusiasm and energy he’ll bring to our squash programs. Our student-athletes are used to this energy and can't wait to get started."
Fernandez started at Dickinson on October 15, as the Red Devils enter their fifth season of competition.
Fernandez is a 2015 graduate of St. Lawrence University. As a dual sport squash and baseball student-athlete for the Saints, Fernandez played squash for Sachvie in 2012 and 2013. Sachvie was an assistant coach at St. Lawrence, prior starting the program at Dickinson.
Fernandez comes to Carlisle from New York City, where he served as director of CitySquash since 2015. Fernandez was responsible for all aspects of the program at CitySquash, mentoring over 120 athletes from the youth, middle school and high school levels. In addition, Fernandez served as the head squash pro at the Boathouse Field Club. In collegiate squash, Fernandez served as the head coach of the women's club team at Fordham University in winter 2016. He also spent three summers with Racquet Up Detroit, providing education and instruction to create interest and growth of the sport. In summer 2013 he was a media intern with U.S. Squash.
Fernandez enjoyed an outstanding playing career after being introduced to the sport in middle school. He earned a scholarship to the Canterbury School, in Milford, Connecticut, and would go on to set the all-time win record, finishing as a two-time New England Champion with an overall mark of 64-6. He broke into the top 9 in his first season at St. Lawrence and was a four-year starter. He led the Saints to three top 10 national rankings, finishing as the national runner-up, ranked No. 2 in the nation in 2015. Fernandez proved to be a talented and versatile student-athlete, walking on and earning a starting spot on the Saints' baseball team as well. He led the team in batting average, hits and extra base hits as a senior.
Fernandez holds a Level 1 Coaching Certification and has served on the Squash and Education Alliance Committee.
Why is this opportunity at Dickinson special for you?
Joining the coaching staff at Dickinson is truly a special opportunity for me because it's a chance to prove myself as a young head coach. Dickinson was very supportive and welcoming throughout my visit, which made me really want to be a part of this family. It's also really special to me because I've seen how far this program has come and the excitement around squash itself and the program here.
What are your goals for the Dickinson squash program?
To end the 2018-19 season ranked between 12 and 15 in the nation.
How would you describe your coaching style?
I believe in developing hardworking, respectful and competitive young men and women. I’m big into teaching and expressing the collaboration between sports and life. I’m also a coach that prioritizes the importance of the various aspects of competing at a high level, which encompass both the physical and the mental.
How have your past experiences in squash/leadership prepared you for this coaching opportunity?
From a leadership standpoint, my experience as a captain at St. Lawrence University my senior year definitely helped. As one of the leaders of the team that year, I had to juggle a lot of egos and diversity in cultures, while not allowing the pressure of competing for a national championship get the best of us. That year I had the opportunity to work very closely with our coaching staff and help with some of the things they did aside from just coaching the teams.
My playing experience has also prepared me for this coaching opportunity. I've played competitive squash for over 15 years now and have had success on and off the court through all divisions—from juniors to high school/college and even after college. I've been fortunate enough to learn from some great coaches while growing up. These people have taught me a lot about the game and perspectives on both playing and coaching.
What would you like to say to Red Devil nation, and the Dickinson community?
I am truly grateful to have such a great opportunity ahead of me in joining the Dickinson family. It’s an honor to join a program that has grown and had success rather quickly but also to be in a position with the current student-athletes to continue success for years to come. I’m looking forward to continuing the growth of this squash program. Go Red Devils!
The College Squash Association (CSA) awarded Dickinson the 2018 Women's Most Improved Team Award. The award recognizes a team that has improved in the rankings while surpassing other strong opposing teams. The honor was first given in 2010 and is voted on by all varsity women's teams. Dickinson improved five ranking positions, moving from 23rd in 2017 to 18th last winter.
The men's program has also steadily been on the rise, earning the CSA's Barnaby Award as the most improved team in 2016, elevating from 55th to 26th in the national rankings. The Red Devils advanced to the finals of the Conroy Cup before falling to Western Ontario in the championship match that season.
In 2017 the Red Devils moved into the C-Division and finished with a No. 22 ranking, falling in the consolation final of the Summers Cup. This past season, Dickinson advanced to the finals of the Summers Cup and captured the division with a thrilling 5-4 victory over rival Franklin & Marshall, to earn the program's highest ranking, at No. 17.
Learn more about athletics at Dickinson.
Published October 16, 2018