By Davis Hathaway ’23
This Varsity Squash season commenced with very different expectations than years before. In the few years before, the Woodberry Varsity Squash program had become accustomed to teams with lots of senior leadership. The last few teams started their seasons with an already concrete identity: A ladder top-heavy with fifth formers and sixth formers who had been playing the sport the last two to three years at Woodberry already. The 2022-2023 Woodberry Squash Team, however, was forced to come into this season with much different expectations than normal. This team, unlike the others, didn’t have a ton of older boys.
The squash team started out their first two matches as many may have expected, losing 0-9 and 1-9. They then showed the resiliency of an experienced team and won five straight. They surely weren’t backing down from any challenge. At the end of the season, the record read 10-4, an improvement from last season’s record of 8-5.
Sixth-form captain Graham Roberts (and Trinity Squash commit) was able to attest to the strength of this team and how they were able to deal with the pressure of many newcomers and not many experienced veterans like him.
“The team overcame being inexperienced and truly turned into a great season. With having a tough schedule, we played at a high level and were successful at it as well. Fifth former Algernon Butler improved the most and played insanely well at Nationals. We did a great job against EHS this season and took the Amos-Willet cup home again with ease,” Roberts said.
And just like the squash year started out as a challenge that would be harder than years before, it ended the same. Dr. Erb, the bright, eccentric, passionate head coach suffered a minor stroke and was done coaching for the season, just at the most important time of the year: The postseason.
The team, however, as they did all winter, battled through this hardship just like any other one they encountered throughout. For them, it was simply just business; another bump in the road that they had to go over. Without their head coach, the Woodberry Varsity Squash team traveled to the tough Division 4 Nationals. Unfortunately, they lost in the first round to the St. Marks, the eventual champs, but then went on to beat Blair Academy in the consolation bracket 7-0. While they did end up losing the next two, they still learned a lot from this experience and won an impressive match that many people may have not expected them to win without Dr. Erb.
As the only other sixth former on the team Finn Jacobs said, “I thought that towards the end of the season, the team got very close with each other. I saw the freshmen and sophomores grow a lot, and that made me confident that the future [of Woodberry Squash] will be bright.”
It most certainly seems that this growing, young team is able to battle through adversity, improve, and play at the highest level possible. It will be very exciting to see what the future of this team holds and how much more they grow over the next couple of years.
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