Monday, January 23, 2012


Trinity’s Domination Termination

 All great things must come to an end. In Trinity’s case, ‘great’ doesn’t quite cover the inconceivable achievement of the “Bantams” – their record holding squash team.

(On a side note, if you’re like me, I didn’t know what a ‘bantam’ is, so I looked it up. It’s means small, feisty and combative. It’s also a name of a small chicken. So, the Trinity Squash Team is named after little, aggressive, confrontational fowls! Their mascot of a chicken now makes sense. Oooooh… scary!)

The Bantams lost a scrimmage for the first time in 14 years. It was way, way back in 1998 when they last experienced failure. Since then they have won 252 consecutive matches which is by far and above the most in college sports history – and that includes all sports. The next best streak is owned by the Yale swimming team back in the 40’s and 50’s with 201 swim-meets.

Coach Paul Assaiante has been at the helm for 18 years and has earned myriad of coaching accolades including the US Olympic Committee Coach of the Year twice (which is strange to me since squash is not in the Olympics), the US Squash President’s Award in 2003 for his lifelong contribution to the sport and one of Connecticut’s top sports coaches of the 20th century. No one can doubt his coaching ability, nor - and probably just important in college sports – his recruiting ability either.

Simply the nature of the accomplishment itself labeled Trinity as the evil empire of college squash. I am definitely not going to sit here and claim to know much about college sport. I don’t. A lot of Trinity’s success, however, can be attributed to the gifted foreign players on the team. I have heard rumblings of how is Trinity able to continuously attract overseas talent year after year. Do they have lower academic standards? Are they breaking rules? Nothing I have read even comes close to suggest any of that and these types of suggestions appear to be generated through plain resentment. And in all honesty, how could you not resent  if you are competing against them? Can you imagine the hatred towards the Yankees if they won the World Series 13 years straight? The county would be screaming ‘conspiracy’!

 Back to their success. The Bantams’ run didn’t happen without drama. They were in danger of losing that streak most in the 2005-2006 season when during the final match against Princeton, the Trinity player was match-ball down in the final match of the day when the teams were tied 4 matches apiece before winning in 5; and in the Potter Cup (the Superbowl of College Squash – nothing to do with the wizard!) where in the 2008-2009 season Trinity’s number 1 player Baset Chaudhry came back in the 5th game also against Princeton to win the title.

But the most (in)famous incident – one that received nationwide coverage and the attention of ESPN – also involved Baset Chaudhry with his over-the-top reaction directed towards his one foot shorter opponent after thrashing him 3-0 back in the 2009-2010 season. It was a disgraceful display of sportsmanship and an unfortunate way of getting squash in the public eye but as the old saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining” and it did place squash – and Trintity’s record – into the limelight.

It was predicted at the start of this season that this would be the year Trinity would stumble. From last year, they lost 12 players to graduation including 4 All-Americans. That prediction turned out to be correct. The Yale team (called the “Bulldogs” – I didn’t have to google what that means!) beat them 5 matches to 4 although the win wasn’t a walk in the park. They won in the 5th game in the final match of the day.

The loss was taken admirably. Paul Assaiante knew there was a gigantic target on their backs, and knew the streak had to end eventually. The profile of college squash has risen across the country, they have unquestionably raised the bar.

For our DAC members, there is an interesting footnote with this story. A connection. Especially to our older members who have been playing squash here for quite a while. You’d be pleasantly surprised to hear who the coach of the Yale Bulldogs is: Dave Talbott.

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