This season, U.S. SQUASH has introduced the Squash Professionals Affiliate Program (SPA). With this program, U.S. SQUASH will offer personal liability insurance coverage to qualified squash professionals for coaching; access to a pre-screened, preferred network of health insurance providers; financial incentives for membership based on the number of members per court; discounted sanctioning fees; use of U.S. SQUASH for online entry offering discounts for players; waived sanctioning fees for U.S. SQUASH League and Ladder programs; free admission to the U.S. SQUASH Professional Development Conference (formerly “Coaching Conference”); the opportunity to sell U.S. SQUASH merchandise and co-brand in pro shops; and access to the U.S. SQUASH “Job Network” and “Professional Practices,” an online collection of best practices for coaches and pros, and regional professional mentoring, and support and advocacy for professional development at clubs.
Squash magazine, as part of a monthly feature, will talk to a member of the program and get their take on the state of squash in the U.S. Richard Chin, the head professional for the past twelve years at the Harvard Club of NYC, talked about his development and the future of squash in the U.S.
Where did you first pick up squash?
My father, Godfrey, first showed me the game when I was nine years old. We belonged to a club in Guyana and mostly played badminton. There was a shuttlecock shortage at the time, so it was suggested we try playing squash over at the Georgetown club. I had some initial success, representing Guyana and winning the U14 Caribbean championship when I was eleven years old. My family emigrated to NYC when I was 13. We lived in the Bronx and I played squash at the Uptown Club on 86th street and was lucky enough to be able to play at Fordham because Tomas Fortson, the current coach at Bowdoin, whom I knew from my time playing in the Caribbean championships, was a student there. I often tell Tim Wyant, the City Squash executive director that I was a pre-cursor to their program, as I grew up in the same neighborhood from where they draw their students.
Did you play College squash?
I played at Cornell. I was a four time all-America and captain my senior year. I also represented the U.S. in six World Championships from 1993-2007.
When did you first start teaching?
I graduated college in 1991 and started teaching shortly thereafter. I have been teaching at the Harvard Club in New York City since 1997.
Why are you a SPA member and what do you see as the programs biggest benefits?
The game has grown significantly over the past few years and there is still a lot of room for growth. The teaching pros have been a huge driver of this growth, working with juniors and adults, so they have a lot at stake. Spa is a great vehicle for pros to share ideas. I like to use the analogy that the squash pro community is like separate islands. Some of the islands are prosperous, some not as prosperous. Improving the connection and the communication between these islands will improve the whole game, which will benefit everyone involved.
Which pro had the most influence on your growth in this game and in whose footsteps would you like to follow?
There are a lot of great pros out there who have influenced me and who I see doing great things for the game. I would have to say Peter Briggs, who coached me in college, probably had the most influence over my development as both a player and a person. He has had such a significant impact on squash as a whole in the U.S. He has played an important part in almost every aspect of the game and wears so many hats. He has coached on both the college level and the national level, and he runs one of the most successful programs in the country at Apawamis.