The Midnight Handoff: Wendy Bartlett and Trinity Squash
Outside The Glass, the world’s only regular squash podcast, is a radio show with a new episode coming out at the beginning of each month. You can find it at iTunes or SoundCloud.com. Wendy Bartlett is in the midst of her thirty-fourth season as the head women’s coach at Trinity College. In episode twelve at Outside The Glass, she spoke about the unusual way she became the Bantams coach.
Outside The Glass
When did you first start playing squash?
After Rollins, I got back to Pittsburgh and became the director of racquet sports at Fox Chapel Golf Club. I was teaching tennis out there and paddle. At that point they switched to the 70+ ball, and my father said, “You know, why don’t you come down to the Pittsburgh Athletic Association and come play. There’s a growing number of young single people playing squash down there.”
You mean, “ie, you could get a boyfriend.” That this was a dating mechanism?
Yes, it was “Let’s get some friends for Wendy.” So I went down and hit around with him. They had a good doubles court and some singles courts that weren’t regulation size. There was something wrong. They were too small, too short.
They were squash tennis courts probably.
Yeah, yeah. So God bless her, Sue Baizley took me under her wing. She was a very vivacious, charismatic person and just took me under her wing. That was the beginning of my squash. I started playing doubles, singles. Sue kind of taught me, you know, what to do out there. The other guys at the PAA, my father’s friends, they were very helpful. They really were. They said, “Wendy, come on the court, we’ll teach you.”
So that was the beginning. I loved it. I had a great time. There were a lot of single people there playing squash at that point. We traveled all around. We had leagues: Pittsburgh Golf Club, there was a JCC, University Club, Duquesne Club and a couple of public clubs. It was a really, really big scene in the late Seventies.
I got really involved and active with the Pittsburgh Squash Racquets Association. That’s actually how I met my husband. He had started playing squash and came up to play league matches and a PSRA meeting at the PAA. Because of my hair, he asked if I was Goldie, if I was Goldie Edwards.
A woman with blonde hair playing squash in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. .
Exactly. So we started playing. And here we are today. We got married in 1983 and moved up to Hartford.
I was sort of trying to find my way. I was still involved with tennis. There wasn’t really much squash up in Hartford, just at the Golf Club. I was playing tennis. I met the tennis and squash coach at Trinity, Becky Chase. So we started playing a lot together that summer.
Then on August 28th she got the head coaching job at Yale for tennis. The team was coming back on the 29th. This was 1984. Becky told me, “Wendy, you’ve got to take the job.”
You know, it could only happen back then. She literally brought me up to her office at midnight, packed her stuff, handed me the key. The AD called me the next day and said, “We’ll try you for a year.” It was incredible. Couldn’t happen nowadays.
We were actually No. 2 the year before. I had no background in coaching squash. I had tons of experiences in coaching tennis. But not in squash. I was just a recreational player. I walked in and they were all field hockey, squash, lacrosse players. Back then, it was field hockey, squash, lacrosse. They did all three sports. I had to really then plunge into squash. I went down and visited Bob Callahan at Princeton. He spent a couple of days with me, just coaching.
So what did he say?
He was so calm. He was so patient. He was talking about the whole team thing. How to start out the season, working on drives, progressing. That gave me a lot of confidence. Different drills. Bill Doyle, a senior on the team, he was also helpful. My first year, we almost beat Princeton. Betty Constable was there. She didn’t like that very much.
Who was your first international player?
Marcus Cowie came in September 1996 for the men. As soon as he came, I got Gail Davie.
She came in January 1997. That fast. She was just wonderful. She was fantastic. She changed everything. She was just a squash player. All the other women on the team were remnants of field hockey, they played tennis. Gail played squash all year-round. And the British accent. And Marcus being there. He was so flamboyant. That just changed everything. Gail stayed all four years.
We got more and more English kids. English players. A Zimbabwean school group came through. South Africa was next. Then India, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Colombia. Argentia. Canada, Mexico, France, Czech Republic, Wales and Scotland.