Doing Good While Playing Well How Squash Has Enriched The Meaning of My Life

By Thomas C. Scott

During my quarter century as an investment adviser helping people grow and preserve wealth, I’ve seen hundreds of millions dropped on the display of prosperity, a phenomenon I call “showing your plumage.” You see a lot of plumage in exclusive sports/squash club parking lots, in the form of beautiful and expensive cars. On my way to sessions with my coach, I sometimes feel intimidated parking my relatively modest Acura next to a shiny new Bentley or Ferrari.

I’ve been playing squash for more than three decades, and I’ve built a prosperous business. I can afford a Bentley, but I don’t see the point. While I have nothing against others spending money on plumage, my clients have demonstrated over and over that having the best of everything doesn’t make people happier. Stuff has a way of owning you, instead of the other way around.

(L-R) Tom Scott (tournament founder), Reyna Pacheco, Peter Gerra and Renato Paiva (Director of Surf City Squash, the Urban Program in San Diego).
(L-R) Tom Scott (tournament founder), Reyna Pacheco, Peter Gerra and Renato Paiva (Director of Surf City Squash, the Urban Program in San Diego).

What does make people feel good about themselves is feeding their passion and helping others, and I recently discovered you don’t have to be a Bill Gates to make a big impact on something you care about. This year, through my local club, I’m putting up the money to sponsor a squash program at The Sports Club LA/Orange County, that includes support for a new urban-youth squash program in nearby San Diego. Surf City Squash, directed by Brazilian pro Renato Paiva, was featured in a recent issue of Squash Magazine.

Like urban squash programs that started a decade ago on the East Coast, Surf City Squash recruits youngsters from troubled, broken, or impoverished homes. The kids learn and play squash, but they also spend an hour each practice day in a classroom with tutors. And once a month, Renato organizes a community service project, like cleaning beaches, feeding the homeless or working with autistic youngsters. He and his program are changing lives, building lifelong friendships and promoting the game I love.

So after a good year in business and with some extra marketing dollars in my budget, what could I possibly do to enhance my life and feel good about myself by helping others?  A new car or boat was not going to do it.  My solution? To have my very own PSA/WISPA squash program with all the bells and whistles which would include the kids from surf city squash of course! So I asked my coach (Stefan Casteleyn) what we could do.  He put together what I thought was a great program for the year and I said, “Let’s do it.”

The 2008 program includes (among other things) exhibition matches, with the likes of Jonathon Power and a PSA event (early in June) with a $20,000 purse as well as a WISPA event (sometime in November) with a $10,000 purse.

Squash has yet to catch on in California the way it has back East, so for a modest amount of money—a fraction of the price of a Bentley—I’m getting tremendous satisfaction out of making a difference in the lives of others, and helping promote the sport.

Instead of an eye-catching set of wheels, squash turns out to be my plumage, as I discovered one day in the steam room. Another player excitedly told me he’d heard that “some rich guy” was putting up the money for a series of matches and tournaments that would bring professional players to town. My first thought was, “That’s great, I’m not the only one supporting this program,” then I realized he was talking about me.  I do not think of myself as “a rich guy” and I am really not.  Yes, I do well financially, but in truth, I’m simply a guy who lives well within his means which affords me the luxury of doing something fun and crazy like this.

It was a thrill to hear the enthusiasm in his voice. It was a bigger, more lasting thrill than anything I could have experienced behind the wheel of a Bentley.

And I recommend it.

Scott, President of Scott Wealth Advisors, has been playing squash for more than three decades.