Girls Varsity Squash Set for Successful Season


You wouldn’t see them unless you were specifically seeking them out. They’re near the basketball courts, but there’s only one bench for fans. Despite being out of sight, the Williston Girls Squash program is looking towards a successful season.

As we enter a new athletic season, the Girls Varsity Squash team is navigating the challenges of filling the spots of graduated players and a new coaching staff. The resilient team consists of seven girls ranging from middle schoolers to seniors.

Girls Squash started at Williston as a varsity sport in 1954. Over the years the program has grown and often been able to field a varsity, junior varsity, and thirds team. The program has also sent many athletes on to play at the collegiate level.

The team this year consists of Seniors Louisa Coughlin, Mia Grady, and Coraly Siegal; junior Betsy Gaudreau; sophomore Zoe Zhang; freshman Isabel Sorkin-Camacho; and 8th grade Olivia Zaiken.

Betsy has been playing squash for seven years and believes the sport is very underrated.

“I think people don’t watch squash because they are not very familiar with it,” she said. “I really love the comradery of the game. The NEPSAC has some pretty competitive teams that make the season challenging but very rewarding.”

The New England Prep School Athletic Counsel, (NEPSAC,) holds many season ending tournaments. Unlike many other sports at Williston, in squash a teams class is determined by how they compete throughout the season. Historically, the Williston Girls Squash program competes in the Class E tournament which consists of six to eight schools of even skill.

Eighth grader Olivia Zaiken acknowledged that this year is very different from the last.

“Last year we had many seniors, more people that were familiar with squash, and a different coach,” she explained. “This year we only have a few seniors, not as many people familiar with squash, and we have two new coaches. This year I feel that we are working hard to try our best and it’s paying off. I really enjoy playing and I really like the new team this year”.

Olivia currently holds the number one spot on the ladder for the squad. In squash, the ladder consist of all seven players ranked in order of skill. Throughout the seasons players on the team are able to challenge each other in hopes of moving up in rank. When the team competes against their opponents the players play against the corresponding player on the opposing team’s ladder.

Similarly, senior captain Louisa Coughlin recognized the challenges a new season poses.

“This season is different because we have a much smaller team but also it makes us closer to each other,” she said. “It has been different but has allowed us as a team to make the changes that we want to see. It has been a great opportunity for us on the team to have a voice in the sorts of drills we do at practice.”

Last year the girls team graduated six seniors; Praghya Athavan Raja, Harini Murugan, Anna Jofre, Caroline Hodges, Soaryn Rutherford, and Everly Carroll. All six girls were dominant competitors on the team. Praghya went on to win the NEPSAC Class E Championship for the 2021-2022 season.

The current head coach, Joshua Schmidt, is accompanied by two other coaches, a squash pro George Peppard, and Ellie Ballard, who previously competed on the Amherst College Squash team. These coaches aid the team by going to a few practices a week and introducing new skills and strategies to the squad.

Although new to the girls program this year, Coach Schmidt is not unfamiliar with the sport.

“I started coaching squash in the 2019-20 school year with the Thirds squash team,” he said. “I transitioned to Boys JV the following year and then Varsity Girls this year. Like Coach [Peter] Gunn before me, I have learned the sport at Williston. It’s a great sport to learn and the squash community is very welcoming to new folks”

As the seven girl line up looks to the rest of the season many including Schmidt are very excited to see how the season progresses.

“I am most looking forward to seeing how much better everyone is at the end of the season,” he explained. “Even over just a couple of weeks the team has gotten a lot better. It’s going to be amazing at the end of the season to look back at where we started and see how far we have gone in just a couple of months.”

On Wednesday (Dec. 14), the team beat The Albany Academies 4-1.