Pro-File: Chanel Erasmus

Chanel Erasmus

Director of Squash and Head Boys and Girls Coach, The Hill School, Pottstown, PA

I was lucky enough to be coached by Mark Allen during my junior career in South Africa. Mark started a stellar junior program at my club in Cape Town. School pride is huge in South Africa. We have a tournament where the best schools from each province compete to be crowned national champions.

Competing in the British Junior Open in 2008 was my first international tournament and my first time overseas. It was an incredible experience competing at such a prestigious event and against some of the best juniors in the world. I returned from this tournament hungry to get better. Being able to head back there this year as one of the coaches of the U.S. junior team is an absolute honor. I’ve been working hard and learning from so many wonderful world-class coaches on how to become a better coach. I love learning the mental and physical aspects of the game—finding new ways of how to build and develop athletes and making sure my players develop joy and love for the game.

You can walk into the squash courts at the Hill at any time and the courts will be packed. We are focused on making squash an accessible sport for everyone. We host tournaments over the weekends. The kids in my dorm love playing squash on Tuesday night. My goal is for every person at Hill to pick up a squash racquet at least once during their four years.

This year we will have seventy-four kids trying out for the squash team. We talk a lot about culture on the team. We’re family. Everything we do is not only a representation of ourselves but of our entire program. We play and work towards the same goals, we celebrate the victories and the losses and we continue working to get better. At the end of the day what matters most is our love for the game. I think everyone that comes through the Hill squash program has a respect and love for the game which becomes contagious.

I started commentary back in 2014 at a professional tournament in Charlottesville. I did a few matches on SquashTV and absolutely loved it. In 2016, SquashTV livestreamed the National Intercollegiates. At the time I was a volunteer assistant coach for Trinity and jumped into the booth for the final of the national championships. The year after that, I won US Squash’s “Can You Commentate Competition” that meant I was able a first-round match at the U.S. Open with Joey Barrington. That really opened a lot of doors for me and since then I’ve been hired to the do the National Juniors and National Intercollegiates. I absolutely love it. One of the most satisfying parts is being able to help people understand this intricately beautiful game. Sometimes you have to be careful not to be too critical. The level of junior squash in the U.S. is at an all-time high and you sometimes forget these players are still juniors—a balance must be struck of analyzing the game while not being too harsh on a player. I think the fact that I’ve played and coached the game has helped me become a better commentator. I also think commentating has made me become a better coach. I can analyze the game and see exactly the patterns a player should or shouldn’t be following.

I love theater. I used to spend a lot of my time performing in shows around Connecticut. Fun fact: in my off-time while at Trinity, I used to do live history tours of the Mark Twain House as Suzie Clemens, the oldest daughter of Mark Twain. Since moving to Pennsylvania, I have not had much time to be in theater, but I hope to get back into the performing arts again soon.