By James Zug
This November US Squash received the largest pledge in its 110-year history. The Ganek Family Foundation contributed $2 million to establish the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach Fund. Paul Assaiante is now the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach.
The Ganeks are longtime supporters of squash, including urban squash and US Squash. David Ganek grew up in New York and started playing squash as a schoolboy when he picked up the game under the charismatic pro Mohammed Husain at the Harmonie Club. At Pomfret School, Ganek planned to wrestle but fell in love with squash instead, and he played squash all four years at Franklin & Marshall University.
Ganek was in the vanguard of a men’s squash resurgence at F&M, as the team vaulted from twenty-fifth in the nation his freshman year to third his senior year. He played as high as two on the ladder and led the team to historic wins over rivals like Yale and Penn. His senior year, he clinched a four-game win late in the Princeton dual match that helped the Diplomats capture a 5-4 victory, their first ever against Princeton.
His wife Danielle, who grew up in Brazil and Lausanne, Switzerland, played on the women’s team at F&M. Although they only started dating after college, David and Danielle are another example of squash leading to lifelong relationships.
Following college, the Ganeks lived in New York. David has been a hedgefund manager and Danielle has worked as a magazine editor and has published two acclaimed novels. David has continued to play in singles and doubles tournaments. A right-waller, David often has partnered with his college teammate Beau Buford. The Ganeks have three children. Their oldest son Harry played squash at Westminster School, and in 2010 David & Harry won the U.S. Father & Son U15 title.
The Ganeks have been longtime philanthropists. For many years David was on the board of the Guggenheim Museum. “Squash has had a huge impact on our lives and we are fortunate enough to be able to give back,” David Ganek said.
The Ganeks’ investment allows US Squash to hire a head national coach who will accelerate the recent progress made in the development of the national team program. For the past six years, Paul Assaiante, the winningest coach in college sports history, has served as the head national coach in a volunteer capacity. With this gift, he steps into the role on a formal basis as the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach.
“I sincerely appreciate the commitment Danielle and David have made to the future of American squash through their foundation,” Assaiante said. “This support is invaluable to US Squash and will help us produce top American players on a scale to match the traditional world leaders.”
For Ganek, Assaiante is the perfect choice to become the first Ganek Coach. “In business cycles, there are the three I’s: first there are the innovators, then come the imitators and at the end are the idiots. Paul has been an enormous innovator, helping transform collegiate squash with international players. Now he is innovating again, trying to raise up the American game. This is a compelling challenge that we will rise to and overcome, and it is exciting to have such a proven winner at the helm.”
US Squash President & CEO Kevin Klipstein noted, “This gift establishes a strong base on which to build our program. Our ten-year goal is to have our teams and athletes always be on the podium, regardless of the competition—the Worlds, Pan-American Games, Olympic Games. The Ganek’s support will allow the national team program to reach new heights for generations to come. David’s long-standing involvement has continually provoked new thoughts and ideas, pushing us to reach higher and further, several of which are integral parts of our national team development program already. We are so fortunate to have the entire Ganek family as partners in this journey, and we can’t thank them enough for their vision, commitment and leadership. From a practical level, securing Paul Assaiante takes achieving our collective vision of success from a possibility to an eventuality. From a financial level, US Squash has managed an endowment for thirty years and this gift, the largest in our history, helps sustain and develop that endowment.”