Tim Thomas: Santa Barbara Athletic Club
I learned to play in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I remember sitting in awe between Geoff Hunt and Jahangir Khan in what was then the Salisbury Sport Club locker room before they teed off on each other. Then after my family immigrated to rural Pennsylvania squash was no longer an option. A few years later I arrived for freshman year at Fordham University and found they had a squash team!
The first person I stepped on court with was my dad. Soon after it was a family affair. Dad, Mom, Sister and I all played.
Squash on the West Coast is counter intuitive at first blush. Sea, sun, mountains, snow; who would want to be in a small indoor box? But squash complements the outdoor wonderland, and is a nice addition to a West Coast day. The speed, strategy, fitness and fun that squash offers is hard to replicate. It fits well and is growing fast.
Five years ago our high school (The Cate School) squash team scrambled to find adult tournaments as our match play, needing to drive the six hours to San Francisco multiple times a season. Now Southern California alone has junior tournaments just about every weekend, probably to the delight of the adults who used to find themselves in the consolation draws at the hand of someone a couple feet shorter than they are. We also now have a high school league and I hear through the grapevine that many more high schools are interested.
I have many memorable squash moments. All of which center around enjoying the company of other squash players, whether it’s the partnership of a good doubles match, the routine of a weekly suffer-fest with a friend, a squash road trip or just sharing Fordham squash stories.
Getting the students at Cate to come indoors at our beautiful campus is not a problem. The question should be how difficult is it to get them off the court! And the answer is ghosting (although 5 people ghosting at the same time is an addition that seems to be enjoyed…after the first few collisions)
Here in Santa Barbara the Cate Kids, NUSEA kids and all other young squashers in town crave court time, even if it’s a matter of playing king of the court with eight others. Our demand outweighs the supply!
Off the court I help people navigate the unnecessarily complex financial services industry where I worked for 15 years. I also lead yoga classes and serve on the board of the Give Back Yoga Foundation. The rest of the time I’m in the sea surfing or in the mountains. One too many trips to the orthopedic surgeon has made me a little gun shy when it comes to playing competitive squash.
I would love to play squash with either Roger Federer or Hugh Jackman! Federer because I would love to see his composure and finesse on a squash court. And Jackman because, well, he’s Wolverine! My guess is both have interesting philosophy to tell—maybe I can ask between games!