Why did you choose Drexel and was it your first choice?
My top choice was actually University of Pennsylvania because of their team, squash facility, campus and because it’s an Ivy school. Drexel was my second choice and because my ACT score wasn’t quite high enough to get into it for that year and Drexel gave me a full ride scholarship that’s the school I went with.
Was there anything that was different than what you were expecting?
I didn’t expect the east coast American culture to be as different as it was! Since we’re neighboring countries I thought it would be a little more similar but it was quite a drastic change from the island.
What was it like being a part of a varsity team?
It was super cool to have 13 girls to train with! I was so used to training with boys that it was nice to see a change where I could train with only girls as well.
Had you experience anything like this before?
Nope. Being part of Team BC, SMUS and Japan’s National and Junior National team is quite different. I would say there’s more pressure.
Did you know you were going to be on the team before arriving?
Yes I did. I knew that I was the top recruit for my year.
Tell us about your team, coach (es), practices, etc
My team is mostly made up of international students. There’s been girls from 8 different countries not including the American players since I’ve been here! A few of who I became closest with are girls from Poland, India, and New Zealand. The boy’s team would have about just as many and from different countries as well such as Colombia, Sweden and Singapore just to name a few. This year my team got two new assistant coaches who are Mary Fung-A-Fat and Dylan Cunningham. They’re both absolutely amazing! If I’m being completely honest here, the head coach John White isn’t as amazing as the other two coaches but he can give some unique tips here and there.
Was it as glamorous as it might sound for some?
Yes and no. It’s amazing to have so many culturally diverse squash players who are all around the same age, love the sport as much as I do and support one another during our squash matches. This is an unpopular and personal opinion but I enjoyed junior squash a lot more because I was playing more for myself and my own personal game without all the pressure I feel with such a large team.
What's the goal for practices, seasons, etc?
The coaches go over the goal for the specific drill that we’re doing and what the main focus will be for each particular practice. Our goals changes throughout the season because we either achieve these goals or we stumble upon an issue that would be more beneficial to focus on and thus creating a new goal. A mistake we made this year was we made a goal at the start of the season to be placed 5th in the country by December and we achieved it but then for the new year we lost badly because we had not updated the goal and so our drive had decreased. We know better for next season though so we’re ready.
What lessons did you learn from first year?
The most important skill I learned in first year is to make a set schedule and to stick to it. This is because with so much previously unknown freedom and free time it’s really easy to neglect studies and to want to hang out with your new friends instead. I struggled balancing studies, squash, a social life and a good sleep schedule in first year but I’ve definitely gotten a lot better in second year.
You have two siblings who may be following in your footsteps, do you have any advice for them or others who may be in a similar situation?
Advice #1 is start prepping for the SAT or ACT as early as possible! I wish I had known about it sooner than midway through grade 11 because I would have started in grade 10. The test just tests you on how well you know the questions the standardized test will ask you. The more you practice the better because it’s not really based on how smart of a person you actually are. Advice #2 is have a couple videos of you playing really good squash! Coaches will be swayed more into recruiting you based on how good of a player you are. They aren’t really concerned about rankings and so you can still get into really good squash schools even without a high ranking! Advice #3 is finish “the common app” questions and essays needed for the schools you are looking at during the grade 11 summer because they can be tedious and when done will leave you to focus on your school work in grade 12. Advice #4, if you have any questions about this process please please please reach out to myself, your school advisors, your coaches and anyone who had gone to the states for school. Advice #5, look up the coaches email addresses to as many of the squash university rosters as you wish and contact them in grade 10, start of 11 is best. This is because often at the end of grade 11 year, they have already chosen their recruits but there are chances where sometimes they have no decided yet. Advice #6 is email as many as the top 20 universities to give yourself a better chance of getting the best offer. Advice #7 is even if you may personally think you’re not good at squash, to the eyes of some coaches you will be exactly what they want. I’m encouraging you to send them an email. Advice #8 is the American schools love Canadians so this increases our chances of getting accepted, scholarships, and recruited more than other countries.
Any Idea where they want to go? (siblings Jay and Katie)
I think J’s dream schools are UPenn, Columbia, and Rochester but I hope he takes a gap year so that he can get better offers. It’s too early to tell with Katie if she wants to play squash in the states haha
Was there any times where the result for your team came down to your match?
Yes! It’s happened a couple times more and it’s either one of the best feelings in the world or just a lost match that I learn from. My first one was against Cornell where the match score was tied 4-4 and then I won my team our first victory against Cornell in our program history! We did a little team celebration when it was over where everyone was in high spirits! Another time was our first win against UPenn in thrilling 5 setter and this was the first in Drexel programs history as well! This fall however I lost the deciding match in 5 when we played UPenn and yes the team wasn’t in a good mood but I wasn’t too sour about my match because I had played well. After that I won our first ever victory over Columbia University in a thrilling 5 setter as well!
Do you feel like you have changed as a person or as a squash player?
I don’t think I’ve changed that much as a person but I do believe I’ve gotten wiser as a squash player.
What is in store for you and your squash career?
I’m not sure yet! Depending how good I become a college will determine if I try the Pro Squash Tour or not.
You have had the privilege of working with many talented coaches so you have seen many many drills and condition games. Did you learn any new ones you can share?
This isn’t a specific drill but I’ve learned how crucial it is to practice with a one dot ball. I didn’t pick this up at Drexel but it’s highly effective when improving your fitness, consistency and control of your game.