Members of the College of Charleston Club Squash Team know that most people around campus probably haven’t heard of them.
But that lack of recognition hasn’t impeded the team’s competitiveness. This team wins –– a lot –– against better funded and bigger programs from states where squash is more widely known and played.
Not familiar with the centuries-old sport of squash? Think racquetball with a less bouncy ball and faster play.
The College’s club team is currently ranked 42nd in the country as it prepares to compete in the College Squash Association National Championship being held February 14-16, 2014, at Harvard University. The tournament will feature 65 of the top club and varsity squash programs from around the country.
Members of the College’s squash team planning to fly to the tournament this week are hoping winter storm Pax does not cause their flights or the tournament itself to be cancelled. After all, they won their division at the tournament last year and are anxious to defend their title.
Evan Casciato, a senior business administration major who serves as club president and team captain, says squash has steadily grown in popularity at the College since club founder Torey Broderson established it in 2010.
Squash, like lacrosse, has historically been more popular in the Northeast. But that’s beginning to change as more students like Casciato, who grew up playing squash and lacrosse in school leagues in Pennsylvania, move south to attend college.
“It started with us having a couple of players and some converted tennis players,” Casciato says of the team, which currently has a dozen members. “But as more students from the Northeast are coming to school here, it’s bringing a lot of really good squash players. Right now, our team is the best it’s ever been.”
At an invitational tournament in Atlanta in January, the squash club knocked off teams from Sewanee, Vanderbilt, Duke, and UNC. The following weekend, the team traveled to a tournament in Charlottesville, Va., where it bested teams from Notre Dame, University of Richmond, and Fordham University. The latter is a varsity program.
[Related: Read about the tournament and their win.]
Casciato says it can be tough going up against varsity teams, which have access to their universities’ athletic programs and bigger budgets.
While the College does its best to contribute some funding to official club sports, players are on the hook for many of their own expenses, such as uniforms, equipment, and travel. Travel expenses, in particular, rack up quickly because many of the squash tournaments and other squash teams are located in the Northeast. The team gets by with help from parents and outside donations, Casciato says.
For club sports in general, pay to play is just part of the game, says Gene Sessoms, director of campus recreation services. “I tell our club sports teams that whatever financial resources the College is able to contribute, the players need to be prepared to raise two to three times that amount on their own.”
Participants in club sports learn to be self-reliant. Casciato wears many hats during the season, juggling the responsibilities of coach, publicist, travel coordinator, and fundraiser, amongst others.
The upside is that students like Casciato are gaining marketable skills that will benefit them as they prepare to enter the workforce, Sessoms says. “That leadership experience is very attractive to potential employers.”
And a winning record isn’t bad either.
For more information about the club squash team, contact Evan Casciato at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.717.6042.