The world of sports is filled with many different outlets – competing in tournaments, providing television and radio commentary, writing about a sport and coaching one.

Many athletes are able to try their hand at these different forms, but few succeed in all of them. Martin Heath, the new squash coach at UR, is one of those lucky few. Heath, the son of a basketball player and a semi-professional football player, grew up in Scotland and has been playing squash ever since he was eight years old.

He continued to play competitive squash and became a six-time Scottish champion. At his peak, he was the No. 4 squash player in the world.

Besides playing competitive squash, Heath has also coached privately for years, commentated professionally for networks such as ESPN, TSN, CBC, SKY, BBC and the Tennis Channel, as well as writing a monthly column for Squash Magazine. This diversity and commitment to all aspects of the sport makes him a great asset to the UR Squash Team.

When asked what he plans to bring to the squash team, Heath responded, “I’d like to think that I could bring not only my knowledge and experience of squash to the UR team, but also impart some of the passion and curiosity I have for the game.”

He believes that if the players are asking him questions and not simply going through the squash drills, then he has done something right.

Heath explained that he knew he would enjoy coaching squash ever since he coached the Indian National Junior team several years ago. However, most of Heath’s coaching experiences come from coaching private individuals, ranging from club players to aspiring professionals in squash clubs.

He expressed the difference between coaching individuals and teams.

“Coaching a team, the onus is upon me to motivate them and hopefully provide education, enjoyment and shared experience that will stay with the members for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Heath decided to come to Rochester to coach the squash team for several reasons.

“It wasn’t a huge departure from Toronto where I was living previously, and I loved the idea of running my own program,” he said.

By watching his brother coach the team at Dartmouth, Heath saw how coaching college squash worked. Heath also liked the added benefit of free tuition while coaching for a college.

Heath replaced former squash coach David Kay, who resigned in late spring 2005. Director of Athletics, George VanderZwaag weighed in on Heath’s appointment.

“As a world-class player, Martin brings an exceptional squash background to the position of head squash coach at Rochester,” VanderZwaag said. We are very excited about the future of our squash program under Martin’s leadership.”

VanderZwaag is right to emphasize Heath’s competitive experience, but he fails to acknowledge the way he has given back to the sport through writing, commentating and coaching. These qualities, as well as his competitive record, will help give UR squash players the life experience that Heath wants to give them.

Lasonde can be reached at blasonde@campustimes.org.



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