Spotlight on Women's Squash
Many college squash players come from metro areas and develop their skills under the eyes of club coaches and extensive junior play.
Others arrive via prep school teams, mostly around New England, and elevate their game once they're in college.
Lindsey Bishop took the latter route, though the co-captain of the Dartmouth women's squash team had learned a good deal about squash - in an unlikely setting - prior to three years of competition at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H.
Bishop is from Bethlehem, N.H., at the edge of the White Mountains. With her two older sisters, she became a skier. But her father, David, a Dartmouth grad and a physician, got hooked on squash when he found an abandoned, run-down court at the White Mountain School in Bethlehem.
She was a freshman at Profile High School when, she says, "My father was looking for a squash buddy and couldn't get my sisters off the slopes." He convinced Lindsey to take up the game on a court with a warped floor. "We learned to play some pretty strange bounces," she recalls.
While countless New Hampshire parents spend years driving their kids to youth hockey games and ski meets, Dave and Lynn Bishop brought Lindsey to Hanover for weekly squash lessons with Aggie Kurtz who had retired after a long career as women's squash coach at Dartmouth.
It was an hour-plus drive for "Tuesday night with Aggie." "While I took my lesson," says Lindsey, "my father took notes and learned more about the game. I felt a little guilty because they did all the driving. I usually slept during the ride home."
After three years at St. Paul's where she played field hockey and was No. 1 on a championship squash team's ladder as a junior, Bishop followed her father (and grandfather) to Dartmouth.
"Lindsey wasn't a top junior star when she arrived at Dartmouth," says John Power, her coach for the past three seasons. "She was a solid performer who has continued to grow her game.
"This year she became a more complete player (at No. 2)," adds Power. "She uses much more of the court with effective drop shots and lobs. Before, she would go at one speed - fast but with very little touch, deception or change of pace."
"Chris (Brownell, Power's predecessor) instilled the ethics of squash in me," says Bishop. "John has taught me technique and helped me believe I could compete with better players.
"I went to some of the big tournaments in prep school to be exposed to different styles and played against some of the good junior players. But playing with a team keeps you in the game mentally. I have a hard time competing for myself."
Her career at Dartmouth has been a work in progress. "I'm still improving which is frustrating because now it's over," says the environmental studies major (with an engineering minor) who hasn't decided what will follow her days at Dartmouth.
Bishop's squash career at Dartmouth finished with a flourish.
One of her Ivy League rivals over the past four years has been Cornell's Kellen Heckscher, a product of club/junior play. For three years, Heckscher beat Bishop. This winter that changed.
In their regular season match at Cornell and again in the Howe Cup championships at Yale, Bishop beat Heckscher twice by 3-0 margins.
"Lindsey went into those matches and played at a whole new level," says Power. "It was the first time she really used the drop shot with control and confidence. It was great."
"I wanted to start at the bottom and move up," says Bishop. "That's what happened. My teammates helped me improve." (Jack DeGange) °