Brown men’s and women’s squash cruised to victory at club nationals in Philadelphia last weekend, winning championships and earning their final victories Feb. 19.
The competition marked the first time Brown squash played in the club nationals tournament since being demoted from varsity status in 2020 as part of the Excellence in Brown Athletics initiative. The squash teams were given a one-year exemption that allowed them to still participate in the varsity tournament last season. But the College Squash Association decided not to extend that exemption after conversations with the team before the new season, according to Head Coach Arthur Gaskin. Players told The Herald they were disappointed by the decision, hoping that the teams’ abilities would be recognized and their shift in eligibility would be delayed another year.
“We were definitely pretty disappointed when we found out that we would play in club nationals,” said women’s squash captain Kate Dowling ’23. “We’ve been playing against a lot of varsity teams throughout our season and have been getting pretty good results against them.”
“We can’t control if we’re in club nationals or varsity nationals, but what we can control is how we go about our day-to-day business and how we go about our approach and our mindset,” Gaskin said.
Faced with exclusion from their previous level of competition, several players said they went into the tournament with a clear, unified mission.
“We wanted to prove that we belong in varsity nationals, even if they don’t let us play there,” said men’s squash captain Chotoo Amin ’23. “That’s what really drove us this weekend.”
Both teams entered the weekend ranked as the No. 1 seed in their respective bracket and they did not just defeat the competition — they dominated it.
The men’s team swept both Boston University and the University of Chicago 9-0 in the opening rounds to advance to the finals, where they beat Georgetown 8-1. The team dropped just eight individual games — and only lost one match — while winning 79 over the course of the weekend.
On the women’s side, the team swept Colgate in the first round — going a perfect 27-0 in their individual games in the process — before defeating Northeastern 8-1 and Boston College 7-2 to earn their championship. The team finished the tournament 73-12 in individual games.
“We were expected to win,” Dowling said. “And we did.”
Dowling noted that Brown’s participation “takes away a chance from other club teams to be able to win club nationals” because the University’s team includes recruited athletes.
“It’s not fun for anybody to have that big of a skill gap,” Roshkoff said, adding that a player from an opposing team said that Brown’s participation in the championships was “ridiculous” and that they were “trying to push to get” Brown out of the tournament.
But “at the end of the day, this is a national tournament,” Roshkoff added. “I’m gonna play at the level I would have played (at) if it was varsity.”
Several players from the teams, including Amin, Dowling and Roshkoff, will be returning to Philadelphia next weekend for the national doubles championships and individual championships. These tournaments will give them an opportunity to face off against varsity-level competition.
Among the participating players, Rachel Mashek ’24 and Roshkoff will attempt to defend the pair’s mixed doubles title from last spring, while Mashek and Danielle Benstock ’23 look to avenge their loss in the previous year’s doubles championship game.
“We had really good results last year,” Dowling said. “So we’re excited to hopefully do that again and continue to try to make a statement about our ability to compete with varsity teams.”
While their status may have changed, members said the teams’ dedication to excellence in the sport — and the strong bonds of camaraderie between them — has remained consistent, serving as a key factor in their continued success.
“The level of commitment that is required is much greater than most other club teams,” Dowling said. “We practice every day of the week — a lot of early morning practices, a lot of traveling (and) we had a ton of matches this season.”
“We stayed strong and stayed together — and it’s paid off, as we’ve seen this year,” Amin said. “Even with the bumps along the road, we’ve gotten through it together.”
Linus is a sports editor from New York City. He is a junior concentrating in English, and when he's out of The Herald office you can find him rooting for the Mets, watching Star Wars or listening to The Beach Boys.