Giselle's Weekly Slice

Brooke Herring

Hi everyone,

Another week has gone by - hope this email finds you and your loved ones well.


Today I want you to get to know one of Stuart Dixons protégés:

Brooke Herring! 

I have asked her a series of questions about her life growing up and about what led her to end up playing Squash at Drexel University and having the opportunity to represent a country playing squash!

Other content today:

  1. The Grip: If you don't know how to hold your racquet, aren't sure, or know you should change it but haven't, this is the best time to do it! At least just try it and hit a few balls against a wall at home! You will be so thankful if you just stick with your new grip once we are back on court!
  2. Super Squash Saturdays: There's an opportunity to watch some new squash matches on YouTube every Saturday! Featuring Jonathon Power and Diego Elias!
  3. Grab your SquashDudes Shirts!

Part I - The Early Days

This will be a two part interview. Today we will get to learn about her early years and next week we will go over her experience at Drexel University. 
Can you give us a snapshot of what your early years were like here in Victoria?
From age 6 – 11 I attended Campus View Elementary School and Arbutus Global Middle School. I was an extremely busy child. I did a lot of sports and I had some music lessons as well. My parents had me doing ballet at least 2 times a week, figure skating 5-6 times a week, swimming 3 times a week, squash 3 times a week, and kendo once a week. I always had piano lessons once a week and had to practice everyday and I also had to be part of a ukulele playing group. When I was 12 I was allowed to drop ballet, kendo and ukulele and reduce my skating to 3 times a week so I could play squash 6 times a week. By 14 I was only playing squash and the piano because it was getting harder to keep up in school. However, I was a good A-B student and still am by attending all of my classes and being unafraid to ask teachers questions when I had any. When I was 15 I switched schools from Mt. Douglas High School to SMUS because of the squash program there and because I had won the Brian Graves Award. From there I graduated from SMUS.
Tell us about your club, the environment and your inspirations.
The Victoria Squash Club was always a homey environment and it was my home away from home. My coach Stuart Dixon and some other players were basically an extended part of my family because I talked to them almost every day. I was inspired by Eric Zaremba and always looked up to him. I also looked up to Nicole Bunyan because Stuart would talk about her often and I it was a personal goal of mine to do just as well or even get better results than she did as a junior.

Did you always love squash? If not, what made you continue? Did you ever want to quit?
I didn’t always love squash. I usually wanted to play games and have crazy rallies instead of doing fitness training such as “pain and torture” so I would say up and down for me. It really just depended on what I was doing and even now I’m still a little bit like this but as I see it now is that being fitter would be I could have more crazy fun rallies.
Did you ever struggle with pressure from your parents or yourself?
My parents were always supportive of my squash life. They never told me that I had to win a tournament or get a certain position. It could also have been me not really caring what my parents thought because when I’m on court I play for myself. Stuart taught me this early on. However, I did put pressure on myself because I wanted to do well in tournaments to make Stuart proud. It’s because he was never at the tournaments and I always wanted to come back to him with good news.

You always look calm and composed so, do you have any strategies for coping with pressure that you can share with others who might need help in this area?
I have gotten this comment a lot throughout my squash career haha. Yes, there will always be pressure whether we like it or not but what Stuart taught me was to focus on the next shot. This also a good tactic when a bad call is made against you and the best way to move on and retain your focus is by focusing on the next two shots that are about to be played. The serve and return of serve. For example the return of serve, where I will try to hit the best straight or crosscourt to put them under pressure at the back of the court and the rally just continues from there and most of what had happened earlier is forgotten in the moment.
What are your thoughts on early specialization? Is it necessary for squash and going to a University in the States for Squash?
I believe for squash it is a big advantage to have early specialization but it is critical to have at least one other casual sport as well so that the kids can develop better agility, special awareness and strength that will complement the squash game.

What is your favourite Stuart Dixon drill or tip?
The courties. Jokes! Hahaha those were brutal! Two of my favourite drills would be when he feeds me shots and I would be working on a certain shot and my other favourite drill is when he stands in one of the corners and he can hit in anywhere but I have to hit it back to his corner.  Doing that for 3 minutes each corner is tough but the burn is great!
Why did you want to go to college in the states and play squash there? Did you have a Plan B?
I wanted to go to college in the states because the college circuit there is a much higher quality and is challenging than Canada college squash. My plan B (but my plan A if my parents allowed it) was to take a gap year so that I would still have a full year of junior squash where I could train full time and improve any necessary school marks I wanted to do better on.
Next week, In Part II - Drexel Life, Brooke shares her experiences, lessons learned, coaches, exciting match anecdotes, being a part of a women's team, etc. She also provides 7 great pieces of advice for those juniors considering applying to a college in the states to play squash. 
Thanks for sharing Brooke!
You have put in a lot of time and effort into your squash. You were a very busy girl growing up! All those activities required a lot of focus on your part and that absolutely shows when we watch you out on the court. 
I personally really enjoyed the advice Stuart gave you and I really appreciate you sharing it. Playing for yourself and having the ability to focus on the next shot. These are great mental skills that hopefully other young (and old) players can begin to incorporate to their tool box as you have done. 
Stuart is extremely proud of what you have achieved and we can't wait to see more! 
You are an inspiration to many girls out there who want to follow in your footsteps! Congratulations on being a great role model.


The Grip - This is a great time to play around with it! Maybe you've always known you should change it, or you are just starting out? 

Watch this video and hold your racquet at home! Swing it around if you have some room and picture the point of contact. Where would that ball go? 
This is Squash Coach Phillip with a great in depth video showing you how to hold the racquet and why, how most people want to hold the racquet and why you shouldn't 

The Maestro vs The French General

Here is a free match you can watch from the PSA SquashTV! You can subscribe to watch any match you want! Some are free. 

Pay attention to these player's early racquet preparation, size of swing and ability to hit a variety of shots from the same set up! Can you count the number of options they have when they create an opportunity and can you tell which one they are about to pick? 

All of this stems from having the proper grip!
Amr Shabana vs Gregorie Gaultiere - How beautiful is this court?!

Shirts for Sale

I have Men's Sizes Small and XL shirts. The shirts shrink a bit after you wash them. Let me know if you are interested by emailing me!
They are a great material and it feels pretty cool to be sporting the Squash court on your chest! 
The numbers in the pictures indicate the number of shirts available. 

Thanks for the support to those who have bought a shirt!

Super Squash Saturday

If you want some entertainment, watch former world #1 and Canada's own Jonathon Power (45 years old) battle it out against current world #6, from Peru, aka the Puma, Diego Elias (23 years old).
They are currently living in the same household with their own private court! The dream eh?

They play a match every Saturday with a hard ball and the winner gets to wear a crown for the rest of the week. They are 1-1 right now. 
Super Squash Saturday YouTube Channel
Let me know what you think of the tips and if you need any help with your game! 

Feel free to share anything you would like me to post about or share with the rest of the readers!

Cheers and hope you continue to subscribe! 
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