Spotlight Squash in the US

2007 Derek Sword Trophy
By Kirsten Carlson

Remember the way he… Remember that time he…That was the funniest thing when he…

And the list goes on of memories of people lost in the September 11th Attacks. Some people remember things every once in a while. Other people remember things every day. Such is the case with Derek Sword’s parents, David and Irene. The annual Derek Sword Trophy match between London and New York is important to many people, and more than five years after the horrendous attacks, serves as a reminder and celebration of Derek Sword, who worked on the 89th floor of 2 World Trade Center.

“It is so human. The loss and tragedy of his death is felt so strongly because you meet the family of someone who passed away in the tragedy,” said Tim Wyant, executive director of New York’s City Squash. Wyant, who did not actually know Sword, played for New York in this year’s match, which London won for the fourth time of the five it has been played, with a final match tally of 12-5. The match was held in March at the New York Athletic Club, where Sword was a member.

London Captain Simon Scott, David Sword, Irene Sword, and New York Captain Pat Canavan.
London Captain Simon Scott, David Sword, Irene Sword, and New York Captain Pat Canavan.

“In some way, it hits home more than in the years right after 9/11,” Wyant continued. “You can go so long without thinking about it. Then you do this, and it hits you like a ton of bricks. And you meet his parents who think about it every day, and you can see it in their faces.”

The tournament has been played in London, New York, and once in Sword’s native Scotland, but from now on will be played mainly in New York. Sword played both squash and tennis for Scotland as a junior. At the time of his death, the 29-year-old who moved to New York at the age of 23, was planning on running in the New York City Marathon the next year. The Marathon is always held on the first Sunday of November.

London’s Nick Staunton, who defeated Richard Chin in a tough five-game tie.
London’s Nick Staunton, who defeated Richard Chin in a tough five-game tie.

“In November 2002, Derek would have run in the Marathon. It was always going to be around his 30th birthday (that he did the Marathon), explained Sword’s good friend, NYAC pro Pat Canavan, who is co-director of the event with Alan Thatcher. “His parents were going to come over then. So, from now on, we are always going to have the event on Marathon Saturday.”

The next Derek Sword Trophy match will be held on November 3rd of this year.

For Canavan, the event is emotional, but one where he tries to stay focused for everyone around him.

“At various points I sort of get goose bumps in the back of my neck and a weak feeling in my stomach and I get sort of teary, but I try to stay positive for Dave and Irene and everybody that comes to participate,” Canavan said. “Derek was a good friend and it’s hard for me, but you can’t imagine what it is like for his parents. Dave and Irene made an interesting comment, that for them it is sad to think they are coming to New York for Derek because he will not be here. But the friendships that have been developed during the event help make it a great day by the end.”

Sword’s former employers, financial company Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, still provide the silver rose bowl that is given to the winning team each year. Canavan said that some of Sword’s former co-workers that don’t even play squash come by and say hello to his parents. They are part of a substantial crowd, many of whom never knew Sword, that gathers to watch the 17-match event.

“Derek would be honored by this event,” Canavan said. “It’s the type of thing he would have liked to be involved in.”